" I will never hide again."
Kurt sat in the little garden looking at the flowers he'd helped plant. It seemed like he spent more time in this garden in moonlight than he did in sunlight. Yet that seemed appropriate somehow; the smooth alabaster stone of the Virgin Mary statue taking on a pale bluish hue while the plants surrounding her took on an aura of shadowed mystery. It recalled the garden at Gesthemene, except he wasn't alone; the Virgin Mother was there, keeping watch over him and her flowers. Kurt pulled his rosary from his pocket, running the beads through his fingers thoughtfully.
So he had returned, but to what end? He couldn't even tell his friends from his foes anymore. He had gone to Paris with questions and he had come back with even more of them. He was so tired of hiding, especially when he no longer knew who to hide from.
Kurt had not gone to the rectory as Father Dietrich had told him to. He hadn't even bothered to drop his rucksack off at the family's caravan. It was clear he had misjudged everything and everyone. He had returned, only to find things just as confusing as they had been when he had left. So now he sat, having arrived, but not truly having returned.
Kurt sighed and then brought his rosary to his forehead, making the sign of the cross and then beginning the Apostle's Creed.
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth. And in …"
Then he paused. There was a strange light in the distance, a tiny point of light bouncing in the darkness. It was too bright to be a flashlight and the way it was moving was like nothing he had ever seen. Kurt frowned. It seemed to be getting closer but it was hard to tell.
"…And in Jesus Christ, His only son, Our Lord. Who was conceived by the power of the Holy …"
It was getting closer.
Kurt stood up, kissing the rosary quickly before shoving it back in his pocket. He could pray later. He watched the light come closer and closer, spreading out into a wide cone illuminating the grass as it bounced and hopped towards him. Not sure whether he wanted to face whatever it was that was coming, Kurt went to crouch behind the statue. He held his breath squinting his eyes as he tried to make out what it could be.
Then, like a picture coming into focus, Kurt understood what it was. He stood up and waved.
The cyclist swerved and altered his path at the sound of Kurt's voice. A moment or two later he was skidding to a stop in front of him. Kurt was so happy to see Christian that for a moment he forgot that the last time they had seen each other was on the path on that horrible night before he had left. Remembering it, he wasn't entirely sure what to say.
"Well, I decided to come back," Christian said, shaking bangs that were damp with sweat out of his eyes.
Kurt was confused. He wasn't aware that Christian had left. He stared at the ground and swallowed hard.
"Oh, did you leave because of what I… Because I was…" he began awkwardly but he couldn't say it. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry about what happened… to…" But then Kurt realized he didn't even know their names.
To Kurt's surprise Christian started laughing.
"That's not why I left," he said, "I left because I thought I could get a better gig, you know, maybe go back to the states. It didn't work out." Christian shifted back and forth on the pedals for a moment and Kurt realized that he was feeling equally awkward.
Kurt smiled too, relieved that he wasn't the cause of Christian's unexpected departure along with all the other trouble he'd caused. He nodded. "Why not?" He asked.
Christian hopped off the bike and waved the question away. "Dude, you don't even want to know. All I know is I was in Berlin and I missed you guys."
"Did you bike here from Berlin?" Kurt asked incredulously.
"No way could I have done that, dude. That so would have sucked. I took the train and biked from the station."
Kurt laughed, realizing how much he'd missed the little things about the circus, like hearing Chris' weird American slang translated into German. "I missed you too," he said, "and I really am sorry about what happened before, to your friends I mean."
Christian dropped his bike and grabbed Kurt in a sweaty hug, mussing up his hair with one hand. "Totally don't worry about it". He let Kurt go and looked around. "They turned out to be less fun than I remembered. What are you doing out here all alone anyway?" he asked.
Kurt sighed. "Got an hour?" he asked. "It's a long story."
Christian shrugged and sat down at the edge of the garden, offering Kurt a Power Bar and a bottle of water.
Kurt shook his head and sat down, understanding that the offering meant that Christian had as long as it was going to take. So he began telling Christian about his trip, about visiting the museum, and finding Stephani and their trip to the library together. But most of all he told Christian about the reasons he went to Paris, because he knew that Christian, maybe more than most understood what had happened in Brighton. That the most frightening part hadn't been being attacked, it had been all the things that had happened afterwards. He told Christian all the things he was afraid to tell Father Dietrich. To his surprise, Christian remained silent the whole time, listening intently and not cracking a single joke.
"I'm so tired of hiding," Kurt said when he was done, "of not knowing who to hide from, of everybody trying to protect me all the time, but from what? I'm so tired of always having questions."
"So, did going to Paris help?" Christian asked, still chewing on the last of the Power Bar.
Kurt shook his head. "No, I'm even more confused than before." He didn't even want to tell Christian what he and Stephani had found on the train; that just made things worse, especially after the way Wolfgang had behaved the night he left. Kurt could feel his eyes welling up with tears. He shut them and turned away from Christian, wiping them hard with the back of his hand.
"I just don't know what I'm supposed to do anymore," Kurt said. "As long as I'm performing, I'm safe, but then what? What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to live?" He stared at Christian questioningly.
Christian was silent for a moment, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "You know," he said at last, "I didn't even want to take German. I wanted to take Spanish."
Kurt said nothing. He was not even sure what Christian meant or how this statement had anything to do with his trip to Paris, his situation now, or anything else for that matter. He wondered for a moment if Christian was even the right person to talk about this with. He had listened, but now it was very possible that he would just turn it into one of his jokes and that would be it. He'd be left with the same questions.
"In high school, all my friends were in Spanish class, but my freshman year they did the class registration in reverse alphabetical order so I went last and Spanish was full." Christian explained matter-of-factly, as though Kurt dealt with the minutiae of the California public school system every day.
"I had to take a language if I wanted to get into college. So I could take French or German, but French sounds so feminine. All that 'Bonjour Mademoiselle!' stuff. I didn't want to sound like a girl. But German, German sounds so tough you know? I didn't know I'd be good at it. I didn't know I'd do all that foreign exchange, and study abroad stuff. I had no idea I was going to live in Berlin or join a circus. I just didn't want to take French in high school!"
Kurt was baffled. He'd never thought of German as particularly tough or French as a female language. He'd grown up with both and … they were just languages. He opened his mouth to speak, not sure what he was going to say, but fairly certain he was supposed to say something. Thankfully, Christian was speaking again before Kurt could make a sound.
"And do you know why I ended up in Berlin?" Christian asked, "Do you know why I ended up as a street performer?"
Kurt shook his head.
"I couldn't win any contests on my bike. I trained as hard as everyone else, harder even. And I'd get out there," Christian paused, looking off into an imaginary distance, as though he was watching a film of himself from the past. "I'd get out there," and then shaking his head as though it still baffled him, he said, "and I just wouldn't win. I'd pull all sorts of sick moves, catch major airtime and … the points just didn't rack up. There was always someone else standing on the podium with the prize money, you know?"
Kurt was fairly sure he didn't, but he nodded his head anyway.
"So then my sponsorships started getting pulled and I couldn't scrape together the cash to enter." Christian sighed. "After a while I had to quit."
"So what did you do then?" Kurt asked.
"That's when I came to Germany," Christian said. "At first I tried to compete here, but the competition circuit was so small it wasn't worth it. Yeah I won, but there was no money in it, no sponsorships, nothing. So I was stuck with working as a translator or as a tour guide or something. I tried the tour guide thing, dragging American tourists around Berlin and interpreting for them, but most Germans speak such good English it was hardly necessary. So one day I called in sick and rode my bike around in a public square." Christian's eyes lit up as he remembered it. "And it was so great. Germans hadn't really been exposed to BMX stuff yet, not like the Americans had at least. It was completely new to everyone. I had a huge audience and I made more in tips that day than I normally made in a week. So I quit my job the next day."
"Were you happy when Wolfgang asked you to join us then? Because it was less work than riding around on the street?" Kurt asked, remembering his morning performing in the park in Paris.
Christian opened his mouth to speak and then shut it. He was silent, as though considering what he wanted to say. It was something Kurt wasn't used to seeing. Christian was always the one with the quick one liner, he wasn't known for his contemplative nature, but right now he wasn't joking.
"I made more money as a street performer than I do performing with Circus Gehlhaar," Christian said at last.
"You did? Why didn't you go back then?"
Christian sighed again, pausing and considering. "It's complicated," he said at last, "I didn't go because I wanted to be in the circus, I went because I wanted to be with Wolfgang."
Kurt was confused. "Wolfgang?"
Christian nodded. "When Wolfgang approached me in Berlin, I … I wanted to go be with him," he said.
"What do you mean, 'be with him'?" Kurt asked. It was looking like he wasn't the only one with complications even if he couldn't understand quite what Christian was talking about.
Christian rolled his eyes and suddenly looked uncomfortable. "Look," he said, "I thought he was gay. And I was… and I'm gay. So I thought maybe me and Wolfgang could you know…" Christian trailed off, scanning Kurt's face for a reaction. There wasn't one, just stunned silence.
"It's not bad is it?" Christian asked, "You know because of all the stuff you believe in," He nodded his head towards the church.
Kurt jumped to life realizing that what Christian had just done was confess something to him that hadn't been easy. It wasn't right to just sit there staring no matter how surprising the news. "No," he said quickly, "of course not. But Wolfgang…"
"Has Maria. I know." Christian said with a resigned nod. "But by the time I realized there was no possible way, I was here and I liked it. I liked riding my bike in a circus. I liked YOUR circus." He shrugged. "So I stayed."
"But Amanda?" Kurt said. He was absolutely flabbergasted. He had thought they were a couple. Amanda was always staring at Christian. Talking to him. Dancing with him at the Les Chansons wrap party…
Christian shrugged. "We're friends," he said.
"But I thought the two of you were …", Kurt trailed off. Together? Dating? What? It took him a moment to realize that Christian had NOT danced with Amanda at the party. Kurt hadn't gone to the party. He had imagined them together and now that he thought about it, he wasn't sure what it had looked like to him other than the fact that Amanda paid a lot more attention to Christian than he did to her.
In light of this realization, Kurt couldn't help the corners of his mouth twitching up into a small smile when he thought of how Amanda had washed his hair the day he'd returned to the circus in France.
"But why didn't you tell us? No one would have cared."
"Oh." Christian laughed sounding a lot happier than he had a moment ago. "I don't know. I guess… Well, extreme sports is so heterosexual and well, I could tell that whole story about losing all my competitions again only leaving in the part where I got caught in the back of a van with another competitor. Neither of us ever won another contest again. I guess I got used to hiding it."
Kurt laughed. "I know that feeling," he said. It was strange to think that all this time Christian had been hiding too and he'd never known it. It suddenly seemed that disguises came in all forms. "I guess… I guess that's why I'm sitting here instead of with everybody else."
Christian turned away, looking down the hill at the cluster of trailers; at their friends and family who, at this moment were oblivious to their presence.
"So this is it then," Christian said, turning back and straightening after a moment of silent consideration.
"This is what?"
"This is it. We have to make the pledge." Christian held up one hand and gestured for Kurt to do the same. Confused, Kurt slowly raised his hand to mimic Christian's gesture.
"What pledge?" Kurt started to ask, but Christian shushed him and cleared his throat importantly.
Standing like a soldier at attention he began in an authoritative voice, "From this day on," and then paused. Kurt sat there with his mouth open. What were they doing?
"Repeat it," he prompted when Kurt remained silent.
"Repeat the pledge," Christian said, rolling his eyes. "From this day on,"
"From this day on," Kurt said.
"I promise never to deny my true nature from those I love and trust."
Kurt laughed, grinning. "I promise never to deny my true nature from those I love and trust."
"I will be true to myself above all else."
"I will be true to myself above all else," Kurt repeated.
"I will never hide again."
"I will never hide again."
Christian laughed as though he couldn't help but relieve the pressure from being so serious for such a long time. "It's done now, Jesus' mom is our witness, we have to do what we promised," he said.
Kurt looked over at the statue of the Blessed Virgin, looking serenely down at her flowerbed, her arms opened as though welcoming them into the tiny garden and it did seem like she had been their witness. Kurt nodded, grinning even wider.
"I can't think of a better one to hold us to our promise," he said and stood up, brushing himself off. "I have some people I need to talk to."
Christian stood as well and brushed himself off. "I could go and unpack," he said. "Is my bunk still open?"
They started walking towards the tiny lit city of trailers and tents, Christian rolling his bike easily along side them.
"I think so," Kurt said.
"Then it's good to be home," Christian said.
Kurt grinned. "Yeah, it is."