Disclaimer: don't own any X-Men, I'd have a lot more money if I did…sigh…

After much fiddling I have given up on trying to figure out what has gone wrong with the formatting on this puppy.  Most of the second half of the story is formatted properly but the first half is totally messed up – no indents and the spacing's wrong.  Hope it's not too distracting b/c I have no clue how to fix it - I'm about as close to computer illiterate as you can be and still get one of these things to function.

PLAYING WITH FIRE

Kurt lay stretched out on the small dock by the boat house, letting the warm afternoon sun dry the last dampness from his fur, his tail and thoughts both drifting idly.  He had slipped back into his boxers after his short swim, but the rest of his clothes lay haphazardly where he had let them fall before diving into the lake's refreshingly cool water.

He had little fear of being disturbed, as the water was still much too cold for most at this time of year.   The boxers just seemed a reasonable concession to modesty just in case someone came looking for him.  It wasn't until full summer that anyone not used to the frigid waters of Alpine lakes and streams would risk swimming in the chill water.  Then Kurt would have to share his quiet haven with a dozen other raucous teenagers.  For now, though, it was his own private retreat and he was determined to enjoy the beautiful spring afternoon – out of sight of the construction site that had been his home until recently and away from the unending speculation among the other students over what would happen now that they were "out of the closet" so to speak. 

It had been over three months since the night of the Sentinel incident had destroyed their home and unmasked them all as mutants – 'homo superior' as Magneto liked to style them or, alternatively, a dangerous and uncontrolled menace to humanity according to a vocal and rabid segment of the media, Washington insiders and the population at large.  They were 'allowed' to remain in school on sufferance, but Principal Kelly despised them and didn't bother to hide it.  This led to all manner of not so subtle abuse and discrimination by students and staff alike.  Likewise, they frequently had to make their way to or from school through a throng of picketers at the Institute's gates bearing signs with slogans ranging from the simple 'MUTANTS GO HOME' (this is our home, morons, he always thought with some frustration), to the somewhat more creative 'WE DON'T WANT NO MUTIES SWIMMING IN OUR GENE POOL'.  The first day someone had shown up with that particular sign Rogue had just about gone nuclear on them.  Kurt smiled as he remembered her launching herself at the man, he and Scott hanging on her arms to restrain her, as she yelled, "Yeah asshole, well you're just paddlin' around in the shallow end anyway!"

The younger students, who had never been enrolled in local schools, were not even allowed to risk leaving the grounds without an adult now – those whose parents hadn't yanked them out of the Institute, anyway – and the rest of them went everywhere in pairs or groups in an effort to discourage trouble.   Adding insult to injury, everyone, right down to little Jamie Madrox, spent every spare minute on the gargantuan task of helping rebuild the mansion complex.  The Professor had, of course, hired some very…discreet…contractors for the bulk of the work, but there was still more than enough to keep the rest of them working, with or without powers, for most of the last three months.

Kurt's only consolation in the whole mess was that, amazingly, no one had yet made the connection between the televised images of  a fuzzy blue Nightcrawler and Kurt Wagner, local teenage mutant - despite rather obvious similarities in both appearance and ability.  He had, after all, teleported repeatedly in front of a large number of people the night of the school board meeting that Duncan Matthews and the Brotherhood had crashed and trashed.  He could only suppose it was because people just couldn't wrap their minds around the possibility that a furry blue demon could actually be prancing around in their midst without their knowledge.  It made him inordinately grateful that the holographic imaging technology used in his watch was so uncommon and expensive that it hadn't even occurred to the government, let alone anyone else, that the monster they'd seen on TV could be anything other than a total, visible 'freak' 24/7. 

Even though he was still painfully, morbidly ashamed of his efforts to hide his mutant status when Magneto first 'outed' them, he really wasn't ready for the full extent of his mutation to become public knowledge if there was any way he could reasonably prevent it.  In fact, he was starting to get really irritated with Amanda and her 'let them see how wonderful the real you is' line.  His teammates were having enough trouble as it was, adjusting to their sudden pariah status, and he wondered what they'd make of the mayhem that would doubtless erupt if people found out just what was walking their streets and attending school with their children.  He suspected that Scott's deadly optic blasts would pale in comparison to the perceived threat posed by a living, breathing demon in their midst.

"Ach, Verflucht," he barked with an exasperated sigh, rolling abruptly onto his back and letting his golden eyes drift up to catch the matching gold of the sun.  "I was not going to think about this!  That was the whole point of getting away from everyone," he murmured emphatically to himself.  The Professor had given them all an amazing free afternoon and he was determined not to waste it brooding about things he couldn't change or that might never happen.  Despite his innately sociable nature, after almost three months of sharing a very small, metal, sub-basement room with Mr. Military himself and almost every other waking moment with over a dozen other stressed mutants, the silence and solitude of the lake was just what he needed and he was going to enjoy it if it killed him! 

Mein Gott, I am spoiled he thought with some chagrin.  After all those years of sharing rooms and even beds in cramped circus trailers it amused him greatly to realize that he was actually feeling crowded after only three months with Scott as a room mate.  "Ach, how quickly we adjust to luxury," he mumbled sleepily.

He stretched lazily, his tail switching idly next to him, and blinked slowly up at the shifting colors in the heart of the sun.  He knew his ability to look directly at the burning orb freaked out some of his teammates, of course everything about him freaked out some of his newer team mates, but he found it as hypnotic and restful as most people found the flicker and glow of a campfire.  He was just regaining his lost equanimity under its soothing influence and relaxing into a light doze when the sound of footsteps on the path to the dock brought him back to reality.  He blinked groggily and turned only his head to see who was intruding on his solitude, grateful for his decision to slip back into his boxers after his swim when he recognized the slight form of Kitty Pryde strolling down the path toward him.  He didn't think she was quite up to the shock of stumbling on elf 'au naturel' and he certainly didn't need the embarrassment.

"Guten Tag, Katzchen," he called softly to her, toying briefly with the idea of reaching for his pants and shirt before deciding that his boxers, despite being a bit damp, did indeed cover everything that modesty really required.

"Hey Fuzzy," she called back as she stopped a few feet away to gaze down at him.  Her voice was devoid of its usual…'perkiness'…he thought, for lack of a better word, and her gaze was distinctly mournful.

"What are you doing down here Liebchen?" he asked as he began to push himself slowly up to a sitting position, finding it rather uncomfortable to stare directly up her nose while conversing.  That motion was brought up short as she plopped bonelessly down next to him and then stretched out with her head pillowed on his shoulder.

"Looking for you, Fuzzy Elf," she responded with a hint of a sigh.

Despite a rocky start, he and Kitty had developed a close friendship over the last few months and he was only a little surprised by this unexpected intimacy.  After a brief hesitation, he lifted his left arm – the one she was laying on – and placed his hand companionably on her hip.

"Want to talk about it?" he inquired gently, knowing that, whatever was bothering her, she would have no peace until she had gotten it off her chest.

She heaved another sigh at his question and snuggled down more comfortably, one arm pinned beneath her and her free arm draped casually against his furry belly, fingers trailing aimlessly through his fur.  Looking down, he was startled by the contrast between her smooth, pink arm and the deep indigo of his short, dense fur.

"Yes.  No.  Oh, I don't know!" she finally blurted, distracting him from further observations.  Whatever was bothering her, she was seriously worked up over it.  He lifted his hand from where it rested on her hip and lightly stroked her glossy brown hair, turning his head slightly to drop a light kiss on her forehead. 

"What is it Katzchen?" he asked the top of her head, his voice as quiet and soothing as he could make it.

There was a momentary silence as she struggled to put her thoughts in order, during which she continued to run her fingers through the fur of his belly and side in a very distracting way, tracing lightly along the sharp lines of his muscles and ruffling the fur idly as she went.  It felt disturbingly good and he was about to reach out and stop her when she abruptly began to speak.

"It's my folks Kurt, or, not them really.  But, oh, I don't know!  Everything I guess," she blurted out.  He was surprised to realize that he felt tears beginning to soak through the fur beneath her head, she was so quiet he hadn't even realized she was crying.  Instead of reaching to stop her idle ruffling of his fur, he reached his hand out to gently tilt her head up so he could look into her tear streaked face.

"What has happened Liebchen?" he asked gently.  "Begin at the beginning and tell me everything.  I'm sure it cannot be so bad as to justify marring that pretty face with tears," and he smiled teasingly at her. 

She sniffed loudly and managed a faint smile for his mock gallantry.  It had begun, so long ago it seemed, as his way of trying to convince her that he was harmless, friendly and somewhat comical, rather than the monster she had been more than half convinced he was when she first joined the team.  It had since evolved into a running game between the two of them – him flirting outrageously while she made constant 'complaints' about his shedding, voracious appetite and propensity for showing up at inopportune moments with no more warning than a muffled 'bamf' and the faint stench of brimstone.

He again waited patiently while she tried to get her tears under control, gently wiping them away with his large, calloused thumb where they were dripping from her jaw and trickling into his fur.  He knew that she would speak when she was ready and he was willing to wait.  His reputation for being a fuzzy blue candidate for Ritalin was well-deserved as far as it went, but when necessary he could teach patience to a stone.

After a few more sodden moments of snuffling and gasping, Kitty again managed enough coherence to begin.   "I just, like, got off the phone with my cousin Alexia and it's just so…  Oh!"  She squealed in frustration and thumped him sharply on the chest.  "It just makes me so mad!  Mom and Dad haven't been telling me anything and the only reason it, like, even came out now is because my Mom lost her job and it's, like, totally because of me!" 

Kurt could feel her thin shoulders shaking with suppressed emotion as she tried not to cry again and he held her tighter, wishing that he could somehow shield her from the ugliness of their situation.  He suspected that of all his friends Kitty was the one who was suffering the most from their sudden notoriety.  She did her best to put on a brave face and spoke optimistically of working for mutant acceptance, of how the anti-mutant picketers and pundits were just bigots whose opinions were not going to affect how she lived her life, but he was certain that the backlash hurt her deeply.  She had lived a very sheltered life before joining the team, Daddy's little princess in every way, and she tended to feel everything very deeply and to let everyone around her know it.  Kurt was certain that it was not a good thing for her to bottle up her emotions as she had done for the last few months and now, although it looked to be landing him on the receiving end of a thorough drenching in salt tears, he was glad that she was finally letting some of the hurt out.

"Schatz," he asked softly, speaking into her soft brown hair, "how can your mother losing her job be your fault?"  He was fairly certain he knew the answer that was coming, but it might get her talking again, rather than just crying in his arms.

"Well," she sniffed again, "Mom was, like, really upset when I talked to her and she, like, told me she'd lost her job.  But she just said it was, like, lay-offs and then made small talk – you know, like Mrs. So and So's good looking son in college and crap like that," she said, imitating a stereotypical Jewish mother, although Kurt knew that Mrs. Pryde was really nothing of the sort.  Obvious signs aside, he knew just how upset she was by the steady decline in her grammar – they had almost succeeded in breaking her of injecting 'like' and 'totally' into every other sentence and just now she was backsliding horribly. 

She paused for a deep breath and Kurt realized she was still fiddling aimlessly with his fur – now she was running her hand up his side to his chest, tracing the outline of his right pec and then running it back to the waist band of his boxers, only to begin again.  She was obviously unaware of what she was doing and he tried to ignore the distraction as she began to speak again.

"After I got off the phone with Mom I called my cousin, because I can, like, always con information out of her, and it took a while, but she finally, like, told me everything Kurt!"  With this rather unhelpful statement she began to cry again in earnest.

"Shhh, shhh Katzchen," he soothed.  "It's going to be alright Liebchen.  What is this 'everything' she told you that is so horrible, hmm?" and he ran his fingers gently through her tangled hair, trying hard to be reassuring without sounding as though he were making light of her pain.

Her tears gradually subsided into a fit of hiccoughs that he would have teased her for any other time, now he just patiently stroked her hair and wiped her tears through it all while she continued to trace random and vaguely disturbing patterns in his fur.  He briefly found himself thinking how glad he was that she wasn't one of those people whose noses ran when they cried - having his fur saturated with tears was one thing, but snot would have been an entirely different matter - and was ashamed of himself for even thinking something so flippant in the face of his friend's anguish.  Of course the irritation of being used as a combination plush toy and giant worry stone was a small price to pay if it could help her work through her pain.  Besides, it was a good feeling to know that she felt comfortable coming to him; it certainly hadn't always been so.

Finally she regained enough coherence to speak again and continued in a sad and subdued voice, "Oh, Fuzzy, it turns out the whole family's been keeping stuff from me.  They didn't want to worry me.  I had to all but pry it out of Alexia with a crow bar, but it turns out that Mom's been, like, getting harassed at work ever since we got 'outed' on national television.  Her boss cooked up some lame-o excuse to fire her, but it's really because she had the gall to stand up for mutant rights and to admit that she 'spawned' one of those 'freaks.'" 

It was Kurt's turn to sigh as it became increasingly clear where this was going.  He knew it was one thing to feel threatened yourself, but to be the source of trouble for your family was completely different.  It clearly had never occurred  to her that her mutant status would have any effect on her family, and he hated to see her innocence shattered by the cruelty of small-minded bigots.  He'd dealt with being a 'freak' and a monster his entire life and, although it never ceased to be painful, he'd had years to grow a (relatively) thick skin – for his friends it was painfully new and difficult. 

It had been hard enough for most of them to suddenly discover that they were 'different' in such an extreme way, but they were managing to deal with it.  Having everyone else suddenly find out that they were different, however, was a whole new ballgame, and none of them really knew the rules.

He realized abruptly that Kitty had begun speaking on topic again after a brief pause, during which she had come up with some rather colorful and unflattering descriptions of her mother's ex-boss – covering, rather thoroughly, his parentage, his intellectual ability, his sexual proclivities and his unclean personal habits.  Kurt was both surprised and impressed that she even knew all those words, although he would have been scandalized had he thought for a moment that she really knew what all of them meant. 

"…at the market, some horrible old lady shouted at her in the frozen food aisle that she should be ashamed of herself and Mom, like, shouted back and store security actually made her leave – escorted her out to the parking lot and everything!"  She was getting angry now and her voice was becoming increasingly heated, her tears giving way to snorts of rage and her ramblings through his fur becoming less idle and more emphatic.  "The neighbors," she continued scornfully, and Kurt could feel her quivering with anger now, "the neighbors, won't talk to them and they've actually found notes on their door telling them they should, like, sell the house – apparently their having a mutie freak for a daughter is driving property values down!  And, oh Kurt," her voice broke abruptly and she was on the edge of sobbing again, "they've stopped going to Temple because Mom can't stand it when people get up and leave when they come in.  Rabbi Meier has been, like, really supportive and everything.  He said that if anyone should be tolerant of differences it's Jews, but when he said it people actually, like, got up and left and some, like, even resigned from the congregation.  I grew up in that Temple Kurt.  I had my bat-mitzvah there.  I know, like, everyone, and people have left because of me."

Her voice was so sad and lost now that it almost broke his heart. 

What price for innocence lost? he wondered.  What price for the shattering of a child's faith?

He wasn't even a whole year older than she was, but at the moment he felt like he was holding a little girl in his arms while her world crumbled away around her – she should be worrying about boys and parties, clothes and grades, not about whether her very existence was an affront to humanity.  It never even occurred to him to resent that he had hardly ever had the luxury of innocence to be shattered in this way.  His introduction to the ugliness of hatred and fear had come at the ripe old age of five and it was a lesson he'd had repeated many times over the intervening years.  To him, it had simply become a fact of life, but it pained him deeply to see his friends having to learn it for themselves.  He could only hope it was a lesson that would not leave them bitter or hopeless.  The loss of innocence was a tragedy, the loss of hope, of faith, was unthinkable.

"Katzchen, I'm so sorry, so very sorry."  Kurt held her tightly as she sobbed out all her heartache into the soft, and now very damp, fur of his chest.

"Oh Fuzzy," she burst out, barely managing to speak through her tears, "it was one thing when I, like…thought it was… just me, but…they're, like, tormenting my family too.  I'm just so sick of it, Kurt!  Sick of the news stories about the 'mutant menace', sick of the picketers and the jerks at school.  I'm sick of Principal Kelly and losers like that witch at the supermarket!  They're the freaks, not us."  She paused for breath in her tirade and, as she abruptly buried her face in the damp fur of his chest, he realized his own eyes were now brimming in sympathy for her pain.  The spring sunshine which had felt so warm and welcoming less than an hour ago now seemed cold and feeble and he suppressed a shiver as he wrapped his arms even more tightly about her.

"Did you realize," she asked in a choked voice, "that someone's actually suggesting that we should all be rounded up so the government can keep an eye on us – 'for the public welfare.'  There was even some idiot on TV with a sign that said 'THE ONLY GOOD MUTANT IS A DEAD MUTANT' and Rogue saw graffiti out by the dumpsters at school that said 'DIE MUTIE SCUM.' 

Oh!" she exploded, almost screaming now, and he was more than a little surprised that she still lay pressed against him, rather than pacing from the force of her agitation.  "I'm just so sick of it.  People who don't even know me want me dead just because I was born.  I just want to be normal again.  I just want to wake up and find out it's all been a bad dream, a nightmare.  I just want it all to go away!"  She broke into sobs again, pounding lightly on his bare chest.

Through this last tirade Kurt had lain motionless, his hand frozen in her hair, his face twisted in anguish at the hatred and ugliness humanity insisted on proving itself capable of - his disbelief had died painfully so long ago that he couldn't even remember the last time cruelty had truly surprised him.  Still, he had to keep hoping for the best, even if he could never really expect it - hope and faith were, after all, the only things that made it possible for him to get out of bed in the morning.  Faith in God or faith in the Professor's dream - he wasn't always sure which, but either was enough.

"Oh Katzchen," he whispered harshly, his own voice now thick and choked with tears.  "I know, I know Liebchen.  I wish it could be so."

He was beginning to think that the next time he passed the picketers at the gates he was going to have a very hard time restraining the urge to rip someone limb from limb.  Yeah Wagner, that'd sure improve their opinion of us, he thought with some asperity. 

He felt Kitty tense against him, her hand freezing on his stomach as she lifted her head to look him in the eyes.  He was utterly surprised by the look of dawning horror on her face and was just beginning to worry about what might have put it there when she reached her hand up to trace a tear track down his furry cheek and sobbed, "Oh Fuzzy, I'm so, so sorry!" and her voice cracked with shame and anguish.

His concern turned to confusion as he wondered just what it was she thought she needed to be sorry for.

"I'm being so, so weak…and pppathetic!  You've had to, like, deal with this your whole… life and you, like, never complain or anything…and here I am…breaking down like a baby after only a few stupid months!"  She was sobbing again now.

She buried her head in his shoulder again and wrapped her arm tightly across his chest as he tried to assure her that he was fine and no she wasn't pathetic but his words fell on deaf ears as she continued in a rush.  "I don't know how you, like, do it Kurt.  How can you still be so, like, normal, when you've had to go through this kind of shit your whole life?"  Kurt had to stifle a snort of laughter at her choice of words -  imagine anyone, ever, calling him normal.

"I mean it Kurt," she insisted, sensing his disbelief.  "You're not, like, bitter.  You don't get angry.  You just take it all and go on with life and you're, like, the nicest person I know.  I was so totally evil to you when I first came here and you've, like, never once gotten angry with me or anything.  You've never been mean.  I don't even know how you can stand to look at me, let alone be my friend.  I could just shoot myself when I think about it!"

"Nein, Liebchen, nein.  That would be dreadfully messy and such a terrible waste – denying the world your budding culinary genius.  And if you did that who would I torment with obscure movie trivia or humiliate at Scrabble?"  He was rewarded with a small snort of laughter and continued in all seriousness, "Besides, you were frightened, your whole life and everything you knew and expected had just been turned on its head without a moment's warning.  It was only normal to react with fear."  He tightened his arm around her shoulders and once again ran his fingers gently through her now sweat damp hair.

"But Kurt," she insisted, "that doesn't, like, make it right."  She lifted her tear stained face to regard him seriously.  "I mean it Fuzzy.  How can you still be so gentle and forgiving after dealing with this kind of fear your whole life?  How can you even stand to look at me?"  Her voice was soft, her expression so pained that it tore at his heart. 

"How can you not hate me, hate all the stupid bigots who call you a monster just because of the way you look?"  Her eyes were burning into his, the tears running freely down her cheeks.  He reached a hand out to wipe them gently away.

"I could never hate you Schatz," he murmured quietly, "you are one of my dearest friends, nein?  You were confused and frightened when you came here.  How could I hate you for that?  And as for the rest, well, they are confused and frightened too, and I do, after all, look remarkably like a refugee from Michelangelo's Last Judgment.  Who can blame them for being frightened?  You just needed time and," he grinned impishly at her, his fangs glinting in the late afternoon sun, "exposure to my unique and irresistible charm.  Do you think that might be the trick for the rest of humanity as well?"

She managed to smile at this, her tears subsiding as a small giggle escaped her.

"Oh Fuzzy Elf," she said with a tremulous smile, "why does just talking with you make everything seem so much better?  I do love you, you know.  What would we do without you?"  And to his very great surprise she leaned down and planted a very gentle, and very wet and salty, kiss on his lips.  She lingered just long enough that he was beginning to wonder if it would be rude not to respond when she pulled back to eye him speculatively.  Her hand was again running through his fur and there was a sparkle of mischief in her eyes as she shifted so that more of her was pressed against the length of his body.

"Do you know," she asked softly with another giggle, "that your fur feels just like velvet?  Why haven't I ever noticed that before?" and she ran her hand up his bare chest in a way that made him acutely conscious for the first time in the better part of an hour that he was wearing nothing but his boxers and she was in short shorts and a very brief crop top.

"Uh, Katzchen," he began nervously, his tail lashing and his right hand moving to stop the now very distracting things she was doing with his fur.

Further attempts at conversation on his part were stifled when she again leaned down and pressed her lips firmly to his.  There was absolutely no question this time as to whether it would be rude not to respond and Kurt found himself returning the kiss with unexpected enthusiasm.  Some part of his brain tried to tell him that he should be stopping this, not encouraging it, that she was emotionally unstable and looking for comfort – he should gently but firmly put a stop to this now.  An entirely different, and much larger, part of his brain, however, couldn't seem to get past what she was doing with her hand as she again traced the ridges of muscle up and down his lean side, rucking his fur up in very interesting ways.  Her breath was warm against his mouth and her lips were soft and tasted faintly of strawberries – it must be that lip gloss she's always putting on, he thought, mildly befuddled.

He realized with shock that at some point his left hand had drifted down to rest lightly on the small of her back and his right hand was tangling itself in her hair.  His verdammt tail, meanwhile, was twining and untwining itself rhythmically around one of her firm, slender calves.

Oh mein Gott, he thought with a hint of panic, you've got to stop this.  This is Kitty – she's your friend, dummkopf, this is not right!  And he had just about managed to convince himself that he was going to put a stop to things when her lips parted slightly against his and he felt her tongue dart out to run hesitatingly along his lower lip.  Her breath was warm and sweet and the feel of her gently seeking tongue sent delicious shivers of icy fire down his spine. 

He tried to stifle a moan as he pulled her closer to him, his hand drifting lower to cup her delightfully firm, round backside as he parted his own lips to taste her mouth.  He heard a small answering moan as she opened her mouth farther to suck gently on his tongue and he marveled at how sweet she tasted. 

His breath was now coming heavily and he was increasingly aware of all the different places their bodies were pressed together and of how pathetically thin the fabric of his boxers really was.  Why, exactly, was it that I decided not to get back into my clothes when she showed up?

"Liebchen," his voice was low and rough and his accent was becoming thicker.  He tried again, "Kitty," but it turned into a growling moan as she shifted herself above him and he felt her thigh brush against the straining bulge in his shorts.  Her breasts were now pressed against his chest and he could feel her nipples through the thin fabric of her shirt.  Both hands now gripped her waist, holding her above him, and he was acutely aware of his rough, calloused hands against her smooth flesh and the pressure of her body against his erection.  He caught her lower lip gently between his sharp teeth and then was alternating feather light kisses with careful nips along her jaw and down her slender neck to the tender spot in the hollow of her throat.  She gasped as he sucked and nuzzled lightly at her delicate skin and pressed her body down more firmly against his.

Oh Gott im Himmel, this is wrong, he thought with no real conviction, it felt so good just to be…touched.  He did pull away slightly only to feel the sweet pressure of her lips as she caught his mouth again with her own.  She was more confident now, her kisses hot and insistent as her tongue danced seductively against his own, one hand caught in his unruly indigo locks as the other stroked and kneaded rhythmically along the firm muscles of his shoulder and upper arm. 

Her tongue thrust out suddenly to run along his teeth and he pulled away abruptly, turning his head to prevent her seeking mouth from finding his again.  He felt her stiffen against him at this sudden rejection and saw the hurt in her eyes.  He hastened to explain, his accent thick and his voice hoarse with desire, "the fangs, Katzchen, watch the fangs."  She shook her head in disbelief and made an impatient little noise in her throat as he smiled wolfishly up at her, "they are sharp you know, I wouldn't want you to be hurt."

It was this simple statement of fact that brought him reeling back to what little was left of his senses.  What about this situation was not going to hurt her?  She was confused and frightened, she had come to him for comfort and support and he was taking advantage of her vulnerability.  It didn't matter that she had started this, it didn't matter how desperately he wanted to prolong the sweet sensation of being touched in any way, it was up to him to end it before things went any further.  He could not bear the thought of causing her pain or ruining their friendship over an impulsive action he was sure she would regret later.

She leaned down impatiently to take his mouth again, but again he turned his head, presenting her with a fuzzy cheek.

"Katzchen," he managed to force out, his voice only nominally under his control, "we must stop this now."  He felt her stiffen, saw the spark of indignation in her eyes and hurried on before he could lose his resolve. 

"You know I love you and I treasure your friendship, Liebchen, and this is not right.  You will regret this later, when you are less distressed and," his voice broke harshly, "and I could not bear that." 

Could not, if he were totally honest with himself, bear her disgust when she realized what she had done.  After all, she may have managed to get past his appearance to become his friend, but he could not believe that she had gotten so far past it that it would not repulse her to think of touching him in this way if she were not so emotionally overwrought.

Kitty looked down at Kurt's earnest face and she wanted to be angry with him, wanted to feel hurt and offended.  How dare he not want her – here she was throwing herself at him and he didn't want her?  Did he know what Lance Alvers would do for this opportunity?  And he was turning her down? 

But then she looked again, more deeply, and saw the desire smoldering in his golden eyes like banked coals, felt his hands trembling where they held her and his tail still twining at her leg.  She could feel his heart pounding against her breasts, his breath coming in short gasps and there was no mistaking the bulge he was now trying to hold her away from.  He did want her, that much was obvious, so she forced her fogged brain to consider his words. 

Will I regret this later?  True, it wasn't at all what she'd planned when she'd come looking for him.  She had just wanted someone to talk to, someone who she'd known would listen, and she could always count on Kurt for that.  His patience with her rambling was almost inexhaustible. 

Even though nothing had changed, she felt so much lighter, more at peace, just for having shared her fears with him.  He was one of the best friends she'd ever had and she didn't think he really understood how much he'd come to mean to her.  How could she regret this?  She loved him, maybe not in a way that would inevitably have led to this, but she did love him and it felt so right, so good to be here in his arms.

It had taken only a moment for all this to run through her mind as he gazed up at her through smoldering golden eyes, watching warring emotions chase across her face as she considered his objections, none of them ever quite concealing the naked wanting in her gaze.

"Oh Fuzzy Elf," she finally gasped, her voice warm and husky, "I could never regret this."

She felt him tense beneath her as she pressed urgently against him and watched his eyes as she bent down to press her lips to his, her tongue instantly seeking.  She watched as the banked coals behind his golden eyes flared back to life and almost pulled away at the passion she saw there, but then his eyes were closing and he was moaning in pleasure at the feel of her body, the touch of her lips.  She ran her hand softly down the velvet of his cheek, savoring the amazing softness of it and marveling that she had never appreciated the sheer sensuality of just touching him before.

He was kissing her back again and she was losing herself in the warm,  musky taste of his mouth against hers.  She let her hand drift from his cheek to trace the edge of one delicately pointed ear and felt him moan against her mouth as he shifted her to lay full length along him.  She gasped at the feel of his erection pressing against her crotch and belly and parted her legs to straddle him, unreasoningly resentful of the layers of fabric between them. 

His hands, now free of her weight, were shifting upward beneath the edge of her crop top.  They were a sharp contrast to the rest of him, large palms and fingers rough and horny with callous from years of trapeze work.  She was surprised to find that the feel of them running up her sides was just as arousing as the silken length of his tail caressing her thigh.  She wondered vaguely if he was even aware of its action, it so often seemed possessed of a life of its own.

She trailed a hand down his side, amazed at the thick layers of muscle on his light frame.  He moaned again and she traced the outline of his abs, every muscle in sharp relief as he tensed beneath her.  She had never noticed how ripped he was, even on the rare occasions when he wasn't swathed in baggy shirts and pants.  The fur seemed to blur his outline, making everything look smooth.  It was easy to forget just how strong he really was.

She ran her hand down further, stopping at the waistband of his boxers then cruising over and around to run down his thigh, reveling in the feel of his fur against her fingers, darting her tongue into his mouth again as she did so.  His eyes were burning into hers and he suddenly shifted his grip on her – one arm around her shoulders, the other hand firmly on her backside – and then with a quick, smooth surge he had levered himself up and over until he was gazing down at her rather than up, their lips never having parted.

She was still catching her breath at the strength required by that seemingly effortless movement when his hands shifted again to push up beneath her shirt and his lips drifted down along her jaw, pausing occasionally to lick or suck or gently rake his fangs along her skin.  She took full advantage of her new position to run both hands over his wide shoulders and down his back, lightly raking her nails through the short nap of his fur and was rewarded when she felt the muscles tense and ripple beneath her hands.  Oh God, it feels so good.

He was working his way down her neck now, nuzzling gently at her collarbone and the hollow of her throat, murmuring husky endearments in thick German as, shifting to support himself on one elbow he ran his other hand lightly up her ribs to cup one breast, his rough fingers catching in the satin of her bra.

She gasped as he gently kneaded the tender flesh through the thin fabric.  Then he was moving again, pulling her upright against his chest, his mouth against hers stifling a moan of protest at his abandonment of her breast,  his erection pressing firmly, insistently between them.  She wrapped her arms around him tightly, her hands again dropping to the waistband of his shorts and then beneath to feel the firmness of his ass through the velvety softness of his fur. 

He reached beneath her shirt and she felt surprisingly deft hands fumble briefly with the clasp of her bra before it came undone and then he was lowering her down again, his weight pressing her firmly against the wood of the dock beneath her, his mouth pressing hungrily down upon her own.  She could feel his labored breathing and the hot gasp of his breath against her lips and realized that her own breath was coming just as short.

His hand was slipping under her shirt again, then under her bra to cup one small, firm breast and she gasped again, pressing her whole body up to his as she simultaneously pulled him down, grinding herself against his throbbing erection and wishing fervently that he weren't still straddling her.  She knew, somewhere in the back of her brain, that this had to be wrong, but couldn't bring herself to care - it felt so right.

A moment later her wish was granted as he shifted down her body, one knee moving to gently press her thighs apart.  She complied willingly, taking the opportunity to press her crotch hard against his swollen length, feeling it pulse through the fabric of her shorts and feeling an answering throb from her own sex.

"Oh God, Kurt.  I want you – now.  Please," she moaned and was amazed at how thick and low her voice sounded in her own ears.

He started to answer in German but paused, as if trying to find the words in English was a struggle and then, in a soft, deep voice that was almost, but not quite, a growl he managed, "nein Liebchen, not yet."

His lips were now replacing his hand on her left breast, while his hand shifted to tease at the nipple of the other.  She moaned in frustration as she pressed her aching heat against him again, pulling him more tightly against her with a firm grip on his equally firm ass.  The feel of his tail twining around her leg, its tip stroking her thigh, gave her an idea and she moved one hand to the small of his back and then down to where the base of his tail emerged, thick and muscular, just below.  Moaning at the sensations his attention to her breasts was sending through her body she wrapped her hand firmly around the base of his tail and stroked smoothly down its length as far as she could reach.

His reaction was more than she'd bargained for as his head snapped up, eyes shut tight and bottom lip clutched so tightly between his teeth that she saw twin pin pricks of blood where his sharp incisors had pierced the skin.  Simultaneously his entire body tensed convulsively and she felt as well as heard a sound she could only think of as growl ripped from somewhere deep in his chest.

At first she worried that she'd hurt him, but then his eyes snapped open and she saw no pain, but they were burning down at her so intensely that she actually felt a little frightened.  She realized that his breath was coming harsh and ragged and his fangs were still buried in his lip as he panted.  She was just beginning to recover from her surprise when he pushed himself  quickly up and away from her.  The chill of late afternoon was startling against her skin as she realized that his body heat had been keeping her warm.

He was kneeling with his back to her so quickly that it hardly seemed possible he could have moved and his voice was low and harsh with passion and almost strangled as he told her, "Ich denke.  Nein!  I think you had better leave now Katzchen."

She sat up and began to move to him, but he turned still burning eyes to her and almost snarled, his voice hoarse, as though it were wrenched out against his will, "Please Kitty, I am sorry, but you really need to go – now."  She was not looking at Kurt now, not at her Fuzzy Elf, but at the Nightcrawler, and for the first time in a long time she found him frightening.

She wanted to cry.  What had she done?  But she looked into those eyes burning like twin suns and knew exactly what she had done, and she didn't understand why it was a problem.

"Please Katzchen," his voice was pleading now and she knew that if she just reached out and touched him he would relent.  But, "Please Kitty, I, I have no…" he fumbled for the words, his jaw working, obviously having difficulty translating his thoughts into English.  It was gradually dawning on her what he was so worried about and when he finally managed to grate out in a strangled moan, "no protection, no condom," he had closed his eyes in embarrassment.  Now she understood the problem, but that didn't change the almost overwhelming need she felt – she wanted him so badly she ached with it.

"Couldn't we, you know…something else…?" she asked, gesturing helplessly with her hands, her voice pleading.

"Nein," Kurt managed, his voice still a low, almost menacing growl.  "Nein Liebchen, bitte…please, I don't think I can trust myself with you right now."  She heard the embarrassment in his voice and saw the almost frightening passion in his eyes.  "Maybe before, but…nein, please Katzchen, please leave." 

She saw the tears in his eyes and realized the effort he was exerting to control himself, to not touch her.  It both frightened and excited her, to have this kind of effect on him, on anyone.   She knew that with one touch she could send him over the abyss, let loose a tidal wave and she would be helpless before it.  She'd felt his strength now, the easy way he'd handled her and she knew that, if he lost control, she couldn't stop him from doing anything he wanted.  She knew, moreover, that she wouldn't want to.  It was the realization of the risk she was willing to take, along with a last, strangled, "please," delivered from between Kurt's tightly clenched teeth that convinced her to do as he asked.

She moved slowly away from him, never taking her eyes from his face, which was now screwed up in a mask almost of pain – head thrown back so that the tendons of his neck stood out in sharp relief, eyes tightly closed, fangs once again buried in his lip.  As she watched blood run in a steady trickle down his chin to drip unheeded into the fur of his chest she was more than a little worried for him.

"Kurt?"  His eyes snapped open again, twin orbs so bright that she thought by right they ought to burn her.  "Will you be alright Fuzzy?"  Her voice sounded tentative and frightened in her ears.

"Fine, Katzchen.  I'll be fine."  His voice was almost a whisper now.  "Please, I'll be fine, I promise.  Just…go now.  I'll be along soon."  His eyes had closed again as he spoke and she stepped quietly away down the path along the lake, leaving him kneeling there on the dock in the last of the fading sunlight.

She was halfway back to the work site before her fogged brain registered that her bra was still undone and the snap on her shorts had come open somewhere along the line.  She paused to straighten herself, hands shaking, and then resumed her walk, forcing her breathing to slow and her heart to calm, wondering if she would have time for a very long, very hot bath before dinner.  If not, she would have to make time for a very short, very cold shower.

Kurt knelt for a long time in the waning light, listening as Kitty's footsteps faded up the path.  When he was certain that she must be safely back to the mansion, or what was left of it, he finally let himself move.  He had been afraid that if he let his guard down any sooner he would chase her down and to hell with the consequences.  He was more than a little frightened by his response to her and much more than a little ashamed.  He had almost lost all control, he could have hurt her. 

He could feel the anger and the lust blazing just beneath the surface like a furnace and he wondered if she'd seen it in his eyes.  God, he hoped not.  It wasn't her fault, she hadn't known that one innocent touch could send him careening to the edge of nightmare.  One touch, and it felt like passing through heaven on his way to hell.  He felt hot tears of shame trickle down his cheeks to mingle with the blood on his chin and chest.  It had been so long since he'd lost control so spectacularly.  He'd hoped never to do so again. 

She had trusted him and look where it had gotten her.  He had been so certain he could control himself, could do those…other things…she had so hopefully suggested.  Oh, like that would have made it OK Wagner?  Scheisse, it would be like doing your little sister, you fucking pervert.

The worst part was that, despite the shame, he still burned with need for her, still wanted desperately to run down the path and find her, take her, no matter where she was or who was watching.

 How can I forgive the bigots who call me a monster? he thought with a shudder.  Maybe because they're right.

Normally he was not at all self-conscious about satisfying his body's natural needs and desires – in private of course.  He was a good Catholic, but not that good.  But now it was with a moan and a grimace of disgust that he slipped his hand down the front of his boxers.  Danken sie Gott that at least it wouldn't take long, but he wondered despairingly how long it would take before he felt clean again.