Reflections of a Toad
Toad sat in a chair outside of Principal Darkholme's office. He had been feeling kind of ill all morning and most of the past week, now that he thought about it. This wasn't helping, being called in to see Mystique.
" Mr. Todd Tolansky," She called monotone. " Get in here."
He shuffled in and had a seat by the one of the windows, kind of hiding himself by the plant beside him. He kept his face turned downward. He didn't speak or acknowledge where he was. He had no clue why he was in trouble this time. But nowadays, he thought, did he need a reason? He was Todd Tolansky, the Toad. That seemed to be enough reason for most people. She rambled on to him. He didn't pay much attention...only to the words that stuck out like knives in his brain. Words describing him. He gave the occasional nod, starting to sway his head a bit, though still not looking up from the carpet. Not yet had he heard anything of what he was being accused of.
His throat tightened. It was getting hard to breathe. He shut his eyes tight, hoping in vain to dull the pain. He curled him legs up, balling himself up onto the chair, bringing his knees to his chest. He his his head behind them.
" What's the matter with you!" She hissed. She never did like him all that much. However, her heart leaped far into her throat as he did something she had never seen nor expected him to do.
He tossed himself forward onto the carpet on his knees. He shielded his head with his arms. His eyes remained shut tight and he kept his head low, " Stop!" he...he sobbed. " Please, just...please, stop yelling at me! I can't take it anymore!" Mystique peered down, wide- eyed at him in utter confusion as he rested his forehead on the carpet and sobbed heavily. Never had she expected such an outburst. Even his look was different this visit. Ususally he would at least give an upward glance, but now, he wouldn't even peer up from the carpet, nor open his eyes as the tears streamed from them. He even began to shake from the emotion. He couldn't even stand up.
Mystique had seen enough. She felt her own throat begin to tighten. She sat at her desk and called to him quietly, " Take a minute, Todd. Then, just go home."
Somehow, Toad managed to walk home. Mystique had offered for Fred, or Lance, or Pietro to walk with him to be sure he made it, but he refused. If they saw him crying like a sissy baby, he'd never hear the end of it.
He stood at the door...and felt compelled to wipe his feet. He felt sick...nauscious. He was pink and flushed. He couldn't decide if he needed to vomit or not. When he opened the door, he decided to take a long shower.
It wasn't that he didn't shower, or that he didn't shower often. He did. At least twice a day, but, he never looked...smelled...felt clean. Today, for some odd reason, it drove him crazy. It had never used to bother him before.
He washed himself several times. Again and again, trying to rid himself of the dirty feeling he had. He eventually had to stop. He still felt disgusting, but his body could take no more of the washcloth. He had rubbed his skin raw, almost to the point of bleeding. Despite the burning sensations from the injuries he had self-inflicted, he stayed in the shower and washed his hair. Again and again until the bottle of shampoo was empty. He moved on to his teeth. He brush and brushed. He had to stop when his gums became sore.
He stepped out of the shower and dried off. The steam on the mirror began to wane and he saw his reflection. He clenched his teeth. Still yellow. His hair, though certainly clean, still looked dirty. Well, that didn't bother him too much. Seems a lot of normal kids had problems like that. Stained teeth seemed to be a common thing among teens. And, the hair? Perhaps his hair color made it look dirty. Several kids were like that. That particular shade of brown was a nasty color indeed, and he felt pity on all kids who had to have it.
He then noticed a bitter smell that was his own. His eyes got wide and he sniffed the back of his wrist. After an hour of bathing, he still had that bitter "toad" smell. It was caused by the natural secretions his body let off, a mutated substitute for human sweat. However, to his dismay, his resins did not bare the familiar smell of sweat, which he almost longed for. The sweat smell can be covered and washed away. No, his was the smell of an old swampy bog or an alligator rolling in an algea pit. He would have hopped back in the shower for another hour had he not been so sore, hot and tired. A few of the raw sores had begun to bleed, though only slightly. He felt his emotions flare up again. He threw on a pair of sweatpants and exited the bathroom.
Toad entered his room. It was fairly clean, though there was a shirt hanging over here, a sock over there and his bed was not made properly. Definately not as clean as Pietro...but then again, he was Todd, not Pietro. He sat at the edge of his bed and peered at his pillows. Two big plush frogs rested there. They were very familiar figures to him. One was a Sesame Street plush of Kermit. The other was an old tattered plush of Dig'em the Frog. The mascot for the Smacks cereal. Everything else of childhood value he had alraedy discarded long ago. But, these two plush frogs, so old and tattered, he kept them. And kept then at his pillows day and night. They were all he had of his mother. That is...before she up and abandoned him as a baby...for being a mutant. He lay back on his pillows and hugged the plushies close to his chest, letting a tear or two fall as he just let his thoughts wander. Though childish, he always felt some comfort with these "toys." Perhaps this was a sample of the security his mother could have offered him.
He caught his own scent again. For the first time since he was ten, he felt nausiated by the smell. He was disgusted by it. Honestly, it wasn't any heavier than usual. It was his own natural scent, no heavier no lighter. However, with a nose full of it, he tossed himself back into the bathroom, face first into the toilet where he, at long last, purged himself. That twisting pains in his stomache began to loosen.
When he had emptied his system, he returned to his room and rumaged through a box. It was full of things he had swiped from his co-horts over the year. There was an old yo-yo he had picked up from Freddy, a hat from Lance's room...and a bottle of semi-expensive cologne that he had taken from Pietro when he first went over to see him. Pietro never seemed to notice it was missing. He sniffed the bottle. It made his mouth water...such a pleasing smell. It made his whole body tingle. Put it on? No? The disgusting amphibian smell wouldn't be hidden for too long. But, for the few hours...it would be worth it to feel, to smell normal.
He sprayed the cologne onto himself and rubbed it thouroughly and deeply into his skin. It burned horribly when the alcholic fragerance came into contact with his raw skin. It made the tears come back, but he fought them back. This was going to be WORTH it!
He sniffed the air. For the first time since being an infant, he smelled irresistably pleasant. Laying back, he felt somewhat satisfied. And, he fell asleep.
A few days later
Toad stayed home for several days. He was left alone to gather himself. Mystique didn't hassle him when he returned. She actually, quietly, welcomed him back and had warned the Brotherhood to simply leave him be. His sores had healed and he had rehydrated himself.
He watched the campus from a bench. He squatted in it instead of sitting on it. It was a stone bench with no back to it, so he fit comfortably on it. He saw a few of the X-men here and there. They talked with each other, laughed, went about their business. He saw the members of the Brotherhood too. They didn't even acknowledge him. Mystique told them to leave him be, and, she had not told them why. So, in pure uncertainty, they didn't bother him at all.
A sudden smell of sulfer and brimstone came to him. Why did it smell familiar?
" Oh, you look so sad!" Came a voice...a German accent heavy within, jokingly and full of life. " You need a hug!"
Toad was greatly startled by a big hug. He turned around to see Kurt smiling proudly at the little prank.
" What do you want?" Toad groaned, still not feeling perky, " I didn't do anything to you today."
Kurt shrugged and gave a laugh, " A random act of kindness. It makes everyone feel better. Ja?" He spun around, " Turn that frown upside- down and smile, you'll be here a while."
Kurt and Toad seemed to be unspoken bitter enemies for no true reason. They didn't much like each other, yet seemed to always meet. The act was random, however. Kurt could have chosen anyone to be kind to...but he chose Toad, his enemy. And Toad, despite himself, relaxed. He did feel better by it...and he laughed.