1/20/04 - Written for the 'Overheard private conversation with oneself' challenge at our Todd/Kurt LJ community. I suck at introspection -_-;;. Bears some heavy resemblances to my X2-verse Kurt/Logan fic 'Private Moments'. Enjoy!

Title: Reflection

Rating: PG

Pairings: Todd/Kurt, a'course, and Amanda/Kurt (boooo, hisss!!)

Disclaimer: Closest-thing-to-bishounen-America's-got Kurt and the lovely and amazing Toad-Boy belong to Marvel, the WB, and probably bunches of other wonderful peoples. So do anyone else mentioned herein. I don't own them, I'm just a klepto who intends no harm and will return them when I'm done. Please dun hurt me.

SLASH Disclaimer: This is SLASH. Ever seen Boy Meets Boy? That's what this is, only in this case it's Toad meets Elf. If the thought of boys hugging, and touching, and kissing, and... [eyes go unfocused for a moment] Ahem. Yeah, if that disturbs you then you should probably turn back now. Run, RUN, while the getting's good!

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Reflection

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The wind is cool tonight. It ruffles delicately at his fur, tickling, as he swings and leaps through the trees; over, under, flip, spin, pushing off limbs and rough-barked trunks as if on some extravagant set of monkey bars. It's been weeks since his last little sabbatical, and despite rigorous Danger Room sequences and Logan's training sessions his limbs were beginning to feel stiff, his mood becoming irritable. His tail gives a twitch at the thought, then whips behind him in indulgent glee. If his hirsuit 'teacher' knew about his late-night excursions, nothing has been said yet, so he's allowed himself the guilty pleasure of thinking he's getting away with something, this sneaking away from the Institute and playing while the world sleeps.

Kurt needs these nights. It's more than the physical, the stretching and testing of muscles and exercising of his acrobat's skills. It's peace. It's a chance for contemplation, something desperately hard to come by in a home filled with students and teachers. Kitty used to complain constantly about the lack of privacy in the mansion, and while he did little more than laugh and indulge her at the time (he, who had never known the luxury of so many people, so many friends), now that the privilege had worn off, and the mansion seemed to be getting more crowded by the day, he could most definitely sympathize.

He pauses, unique toes curling around a thick branch while his tail sways behind him for balance. He hears crickets chirping, leaves rustling, that scurrying in the layer of fallen leaves on the ground and the high-pitched scream of an owl meeting that spot, even the dying squeal of whatever helpless rodent just met its end; he focuses on them all, honing in and gaining what information he can from the simple sounds. His sense of smell, while not as acute as Wolverine's, picks up everything, from the sweet, slightly bitter scent of some night flower to the heavy musk of deer nearby, a family he's had the joy of watching several times before. He tastes water on the wind. There's a pool somewhere up ahead, he remembers.

With a grin and a twitch of muscle he's gone, jumping from tree to tree almost faster than he could teleport, only slowing when a glint and shimmer set against the black scribbles of leaves mark the fast-approaching pond. He nearly crawls the last few feet, creeping through the branches with a tread a cat would envy, wondering if maybe he might catch a glimpse of some night creature.

The creature he finds isn't any he'd expected. The moonlight glints off dusky brown hair instead of fur, smooth, pale skin instead of feathers, dancing fingers instead of delicate hooves. For a moment he's frozen, and his soft gasp goes unnoticed. Then his brows furrow, and he leans forward, his mouth already opening to snap out a defense and demand an explanation for this unwanted presence in ihis/i forest.

A quiet humming gives him pause, though. It takes him a moment to realize where it's coming from; when he does it takes him much longer to believe it. He stares, while his weight falls back towards his tail and his tensed muscles relax, and he wonders why in the world Toad's sitting here, in the woods, in the middle of the night, humming 'Ode to Joy'.

"Hey, man! Whas' up?" The sudden cry nearly shocks Kurt out of his tree. His tail has to swing wildly behind him to maintain his balance, while his fingers and toes clutch desperately at the branch beneath him. Once stable, he shoots a guilty glance at the boy by the pond (he belatedly wonders why it's guilty; didn't Toad intrude on HIS midnight stroll?).

He expects to find angry yellow eyes peering up at him. NOT Toad grinning happily down at...a toad. Or frog, more specifically. A little green tree frog that jumps off a bit of branch floating in the pond and lands neatly on Toad's pants. The boy's grin widens, and he picks the little creature up to hold it at eye level, while Kurt can only stare and raise a confused eyebrow.

"How've things been? The bugs been plentiful?"

Kurt's about to ask what the hell Toad means by that when he realizes the boy's talking to the frog. 'Wonderful,' he thinks. 'I've never seen a nervous breakdown before. This should be interesting.' And then Toad's talking again and, for some reason Kurt can't quite explain to himself, he's listening.

"Yeah, know what you mean, man. Life ain't easy no matter who you are. You got it okay over here though." Toad leans over the pond, dabbling his fingers in the water. The webbing between them makes little furrows, that turn into ripples that spread across the surface.

"Yeah. Pretty nice spread you got here. No jocks. No bad-ass boss-lady ridin' your butt all the time. An' especially none'a them damn X-Geeks hasslin' you." He frowns, and crosses his arms with a slight huff. The frog merely crawls onto his shoulder, and sits there staring at him. Kurt can almost imagine its tiny throat flicking rhythmically in and out as it breaths.

"None'a them understand. Fucking goody-goods, livin' up in their high-dollar mansion, free board, all the food they can eat, not to mention water. They live it up and look down on us for doin' what we gotta do to get by...fuckin' hypocrites." Kurt frowns at that, tries to make up his mind to leave like he should've done ten minutes ago, but the frog chirps; he imagines it sounded almost curious, and wonders for a moment if Toad doesn't have some strange mutant ability to talk to amphibians.

Yeah, right. Kurt shakes his head, giving a bitter smile at his own idiocy. Then Toad snorts, raising a finger to rub the frog's back with infinite care. "Yeah, they're all the same. Never willin' to give a guy a break. Talk about acceptance, but a guy who's a bit...different comes along and BLAM! The front door's shut faster'n you can say 'Avon calling.'" Kurt outright scowls at that, shaking his head and starting to creep silently along the branch, away from the pond and the frog and the boy who thinks he is one. "Though, they did let Fuzzy in..."

Every muscle in Kurt's body tenses, and his head whips around so he can catch the contemplative look on Toad's face. The boy's got one finger to his lips, his eyes are raised, and the frog's now nestled in his other palm again. "'Course why wouldn't they. Fuzzy's funny. Fuzzy's smart. Fuzzy's...well, FUZZY. Who doesn't like fuzzy?" The frog chirps, and Toad smiles. Kurt slowly resumes his former perch.

"Okay, so you don't. But people dig fuzzy, man. That's why there're so many dogs and cats as pets, 'stead of snakes and lizards and you guys." Another chirp, sharper this time, and Toad laughs. "Didn't say it made sense. But I gotta say I can see the reasoning. Nothin' cuddly about bein' cold-blooded. Or havin' sickly green skin. Or ugly yellow eyes or bags under 'em..." As he talked his gaze had drifted; now he stares at his reflection in the still water. And stares.

Finally his brows furrow. He slaps the water angrily, disrupting the crystal-clear image, and turns away. Frowning, Kurt lowers himself to the next branch down, leaning in close. The frog chirps softly, and a slight chuckle carries across the grass. "Whatever, man. You're kinda biased, ya' know? Most people don't think like that. Not that I can really blame 'em." His gaze softens for a second, his eyes gleaming in the moonlight, and Kurt thinks they're really more of a fascinating amber. "I don't blame Fuzzy though. The Elf's got his own issues. He's all afraid to be himself cause'a stupid-ass people like Duncan. I couldn't do it man, hide like that all the time. Gotta drive you crazy after a while."

Kurt cringes, and his attention falls to his hands, blue and furry and oddly shaped. Freakish. He looks away, but can't stop listening.

"He shouldn't have to anyway. He don't deserve it. The way he is, down here," Todd thumbs at his heart, "where it counts, ya' know? He doesn't know it, but he's better'n all of them. He's got something special, somethin'...And I bet that fur's really soft...probably feels real good when you rub it..." He blinks, as if surprised the words came out of his mouth, and Kurt blinks with him. Kurt's mouth falls open, and a shudder runs down his spine, and suddenly he's struck with a horrible sense of voyeurism, and wrongness, but he can't stop listening.

"You ever tell anybody, I'll...well, you'll wish you hadn't, got me?" Todd fixes the frog with a mock glare and a slight pout, which should look ridiculous but somehow doesn't. "That's all I need, somethin' else for people to tease me over, another reason for Duncan's little Gestapo to beat me up. Or that girl'a Fuzzy's to come hunt me down." Todd gives a visible shudder, his shoulders hunching and heels lifting off the ground for a moment as he rolls back. "That's a scary thought. Girl gives me the creeps. I swear she's got some sort of freaky fetish or somethin'. He doesn't even notice that look she gives him, like he's some lab rat. Man, if someone looked at ME like that, there'd be a little Toad-shaped dust cloud floatin' in the air where I was standin' a second ago. Pietro wouldn't have nothin' on me, lemme tell ya'."

Todd barks a laugh, but it's humorless and dry, and almost painful to hear. He crosses his arms again, slim figure hunching in on himself, as the frog takes up perch on his shoulder once more. "That's all he is to her, an experiment. And I gotta sit there and watch that shit every-fucking-day. One'a these days, I swear I'm gonna lose it. Then that bitch'll get a stuffed animal shoved down her throat. Let her rub that thing's fur, maybe that'll be enough to keep her busy."

The frog chirps brightly, but Kurt's already gone in an angry swish of tail and melting shadow.

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She runs a finger teasingly down his fur-covered back, and it's warm, contrasting with still fresh memories of a cool wind and bright moon and strangely quiet, pained voice.

This time there's something in her eyes that wasn't there before, or maybe it was and he just didn't want to see it but it's there now, and he wishes he still didn't. A shiver runs down his spine, from his suddenly tense shoulders to the tip of his irritably twisting tail.

"Why are you looking at me like that?"

"Huh? Like what? Kurt, what's-"

"It's nothing. Or maybe something...Amanda, we've got to talk."

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He finds Todd on the football field, red paint smeared on his pale nose and spray cans decorating the ground by his feet. The bleachers now proudly read 'The Hawks blow', in a veritable rainbow of colors. Kurt pauses a few feet away, a smirk crossing his lips as he admires the detailed lettering.

"Nice penmanship."

Todd jumps. Which is to say, he's suddenly clinging to the seating halfway up the bleachers, staring down at Kurt with wide golden eyes. His voice still squeaks slightly when he calls, "The fuck, yo?! Trying to give a guy a heart-attack or what? An' what's your problem, I didn't do nothin' this time."

Doing a heroic job of supressing the fit of giggles that wants to break free (because the boy really is a sight, all eyes and mouth and cheery red splashed over almost-white skin) Kurt raises an eyebrow, then stares pointedly at the words sprawled over the wood. Todd glances down at the paint now decorating his pants and shoes. "Aw, what the fuck, man?! This shit's never gonna come out..." He wipes at his knees, not realizing his hands are also covered in paint, then glares at Kurt. "This'd better be good, boy, cause I'm this close to comin' down there and kickin' your fuzzy ass all over this field."

"Like you did the last time we fought here?"

"Oh that is IT, just wait'll I-"

"I broke up with Amanda." The words shock both of them; they wear twin masks of surprise. Something eager and then uncertain dances in Todd's eyes, and though it's immediately replaced with suspicion, it's enough for Kurt.

Todd finally hops down, landing in a crouch before Kurt, then sprawling across the bleachers, attempting a disinterested, slightly peevish air. "Why're you tellin' ME this, dawg?"

There's an awkward pause, before Kurt blurts out, "Would you...like to go hang out this weekend? Uh, with me, I mean. Hang out with me." His voice trails off, and at first his only response is a blank stare. Then Todd's voice, that voice he's come to know in such a different way - for a moment he's not the would-be punk, the wanna-be bad-ass, the juvenile delinquent; he's just another kid, trying really hard not to get hurt, and Kurt finally admits hurting him has been the last thing on his mind for some time now.

"Maybe. I'll, uh...I'll think about it dawg," and he starts to hop away, Kurt staring after him, until he stops and calls back over his shoulder, "Catch ya' tomorrow?"

"Yeah... Yeah, I'll be here." And then Todd's gone. Kurt doesn't look away for a long while. When he does, he studies the bleachers. Stooping to pick up one of the discarded cans, he fills in a final line, stands back to admire how easily his lines blend with Todd's, then he drops the can in the dirt. He sticks his hands in his pockets and strolls in the direction Todd left, whistling 'Ode to Joy'.

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