Kurt took a deep breath and let it out slowly. It had been a while since he could. Since he could really take a nice long breath and relax. He rotated his shoulders and flexed his fingers. He rolled his head from side to side as he sat back and stretched his legs. He coiled his tail around the tree branch he was perched on and wiggled his toes. The air was warm and a little moist as the wind blew through the leaves and reached him. Just an average brisk spring day in upstate New York. The students of the Xavier institute were spread about outside - enjoying the sun. It was rare that Kurt ever got to sit around so he intended to take full advantage of his down time. It came so briefly to the X-men so he was going to nap intensely, over eat between naps and if he was really feeling it he might even watch a movie later. Much later though as his spot in the tree was calling his name.
"Kurt." He could actually hear it. "Kurt." He opened his eyes when he heard it again. That wasn't in his mind. He looked down and Ororoe was standing on the ground looking up at him. "Are you busy?" He tried not to give her look - clearly he wasn't busy she was just looking for confirmation that he could do something for her. But when she smiled he couldn't help but want to help her with what ever it was.
"Not terribly so - did you need something?" He asked.
It turns out Ororoe wanted Kurt to talk to one of their newer recruits. Apparently he was having trouble adjusting to life at the mansion. They had acquired him from a traveling contortionist cirque right when it was discovered he was a mutant. Being ripped away from everything and everyone he knew and flung into the day to day at the institute was undoubtedly jarring. But Ororoe suspected that there was something else plaguing the young man. As it turned out his mutation wasn't so different from Kurt's. Hank had been the one that convinced the boy to come to the institute but it seemed that's where his trust in Hank ran out. Ororoe thought he might open up to Kurt - their age difference wasn't as wide and when she asked some other students which teacher was the easiest to talk to Kurt's name came up a lot. He made his way through the dorms and knocked on door 215.
"Come in." Came a reply. Kurt walked in and saw the boy sitting at his desk. Except for the lime green streak in his hair dyed black hair he looked like a normal caucasian teenager. He jumped slightly when he saw it was Kurt. "Yes?"
"Are you Oliver?" He asked. The boy didn't take any of his classes so he couldn't place his face. He just shook his head and pointed to the bed closest to the window. Kurt gave it an odd look as he walked over. He glanced at the other boy he just gestured to the bed again. Kurt finally understood and knelt down. He lifted the bedskirt and looked underneath and sure enough there was someone down there. He gasped and inched back away Kurt. "Hello there. Are you Oliver?" He asked. All he could see under the dark bed were the whites of his eyes and some of his hair - his night vision adjusted his sight a little and he could see the boy's brown skin.
"Oui." He answered quietly.
"Oh, Henry brought you in didn't he? He's fluent in French but um… ah… Je suis Kurt. Um… je ne umm…"
"I speak English." Oliver said quickly.
"Wunderbare!" Kurt said as he adjusted into a better position to see him. "There's no need to be scared, Oliver. You can come out."
"No thank you." He shot down the invitation.
"My name is Kurt—"
"You said that." Oliver interrupted.
"Right. I did. Well, I'm Kurt Wagner - I teach here. Ms. Monroe thought you'd like to talk to me."
"About what?" Oliver asked. Kurt could tell by his tone that he was just becoming more and more anxious. He was rushing the conversation so Kurt would leave.
"Well I think it's pretty obvious - she's more than likely wondering why you spend your days under your bed. Are you scared someone might hurt you?"
"It's safer this way."
"Safer? No one is going to harm you here." Kurt said.
"Safer for everyone else." Oliver corrected him.
"I really love sleeping in here when you say stuff like that." The boy at the desk said. Kurt looked at him. "I'm Daniel by the way. And if you could tell Ms. Monroe I want to be transferred to a different room that would be great."
"I'll be sure to tell her." Kurt sighed as he turned his attention back to Oliver. "Tell me about yourself. Ororoe told me you were part of a cirque. What did you used to do?"
"I'm a contortionist." He answered.
"Certainly explains how you can fit under here." Kurt said. If he had blinked he would've missed the small smile that spread across Oliver's face. "I actually used to be a trapeze artist in a circus. When I was younger I was a sideshow freak so I know how cruel people can be to those of us that look different." Oliver looked like he was finally hearing him. "It's really nice out today. Come on a walk with me - I'll show you how great everyone is here." He reached his hand out to Oliver and the boy let out an odd growl. He tensed and Kurt noticed the way his eyes darted from his fingers to his face. He pulled back a little. "I know you've heard this a lot but I'm not going to hurt you."
"He's right." The other boy piped up again. "Mr. Wagner is one of the nicest people here."
"Thanks." Kurt said said. When he focused on Oliver again he appeared to be mulling over coming out of his hiding spot.
"Maybe tomorrow." He offered. "Maybe."
"The forecast says blue skies and sunshine. I'll see you then." Kurt didn't push his luck and left the poor boy in peace. He said goodbye to his roommate before he made his way to Xavier's office. Something terrible had happened to that boy he wondered if it was in his admittance file. While there he updated Ororoe on the small progress he made.
"Wait - he actually spoke to you?" Ororoe asked, truly astonished. "Apparently he's done nothing but stare and growl at anyone else I sent up there. You've got a gift Kurt."
"Charm is my real power." He said as he winked at her. He opened the file and looked at the picture they had taken of Oliver before he took up his hiding place. The flash gave him red eye and he looked particularly exhausted. His brown skin was littered with freckles and Kurt noticed his elongated ears. "Agility, speed, claws, fangs, tail, pawed feet - we really are similar."
"He's incredibly skittish. Be careful of his nails - Henry says they're really sharp."
"Did he tell you about who abused him?" Kurt asked.
"How do you know he was abused?" Xavier asked. He had picked up on it from a cursory scope of the boy's mind but he didn't want to pry further without his permission.
"Professor, he's currently hiding under his bed - all the telltale signs are there. He acts like an animal that's never been free. Now that he has his freedom he's too terrified to go anywhere. Although he did say something about it being safer for everyone else if he stayed under there."
"His powers aren't outwardly hazardous. What do you think he meant by that?"
"I'll find out tomorrow. He said he might come out."
Over the course of several weeks Kurt managed to get Oliver from under his bed. Out in the light of day Kurt saw that his eyes were actually blue. His hair was stark platinum blond against his brown skin. He had a long furry tail to match, pawed feet and the lithe figure you'd expect from a contortionist. Kurt noticed that he wasn't skittish so much as he seemed to be reigning in his movements and trying not to react to every little thing that caught his attention. When Kurt reached to brush a dust bunny out of his hair Oliver slapped his hand away and punched him in the gut before either of them even registered the movement. Kurt tried to assure him it 'wasn't a big deal' as he wheezing and tried not to throw up. Oliver's reflexes were on a hair trigger and someone had trained him to fight and fight well.
Sometimes they'd sit in the bay window and play cards. Kurt tried to tempt him with a walk in the gardens when he caught Oliver gazing out at the yard longingly. He said his usually reply 'maybe tomorrow' before retreating back into himself. Kurt asked about his time in the cirque and found out he had only been in their employ for a year before Hank recruited him.
"Oh really? Where were you before that?" Kurt asked as he dealt the cards.
"Just… everywhere." Oliver said as he looked at his hand. He dropped two cards and Kurt gave him replacements. Kurt noticed the way his tail flicked back and forth - he was agitated so he dropped the subject. He'd have to try something else to get Oliver out of his self imposed confinement. If he didn't he'd just get worse until he ended up hurting himself or someone else. His roommate wasn't helping matters - they weren't used to each other. Daniel wasn't accustomed to mutants with such extreme features and Oliver didn't trust him. The way he glared at the other boy didn't help them get along.
Kurt was getting a midnight snack when he heard someone going down to the gym. He teleported down and stayed out of sight as he followed the mysterious figure. He slipped into the shadows and all but disappeared. He soon realized it was Oliver sneaking around. He warmed up, stretched and then flipped on to the balance beam. He walked along the narrow surface like he was taking a leisurely stroll. Kurt watched as he did a simple routine and dismounted. He then walked over to where they kept the practice weapons for combat training. He ran his hand over a wooden kendo sword before he picked it up. Kurt wondered if he was going to get to see more of what Oliver could do but he suddenly whipped around launched the sword at Kurt. He dodged it and Oliver was suddenly on him. Kurt cried out when he sunk his claws into his shoulders and pinned him to the ground.
"Merde!" Oliver gasped when he realized what he had done. "Kurt, why were you creeping on me?"
"Curiosity." Kurt said and winced as he touched his wounds.
"You know 'what that killed' don't you?" Oliver joked. Kurt tried to smile at his ironic joke but he just ended up baring his teeth. "Oh geez, you're really bleeding. Come on." Oliver helped him up and lead him to the infirmary.
"He attacked you?" Logan asked when Kurt showed them the bandages. Logan had smelled the nearly closed wounds and noticed Kurt's stiff movements. He was reluctant to tell Logan it was Oliver who did it - he seemed to have some kind of grievance with the young man. Oliver wasn't nearly old enough to have such a powerful enemy. To the best of his knowledge he and Logan had never even spoken but Logan's attitude towards him was more than just him being wary of newcomers. "He's gotta go."
"Hold on a minute." Hank said. "That boy needs help. We cast him out now who knows where he'll end up."
"Yeah, Logan it was an accident. I scared him." Kurt interjected. "And it's not like he didn't feel remorse about it. All that work I put in to get him from under his bed he's right back where he started. He's realized one of his worst fears, he hurt someone."
"I'm glad you agree it's a mistake having him here. 'Roe send him off to Scott - you should've known better than to bring Creed's kid here." Logan said. They all gaped at him. "What?"
"Oliver is Victor Creed's son?" Ororoe asked.
"I didn't tell you that? I must be getting senile in my old age."
"No." She glared at him - not really in the mood for his off beat charm.
"I suppose I should've." Logan admitted. "There's not really a family resemblance."
"There's absolutely no family resemblance." Kurt huffed. He opened Oliver's file again. The only thing they had in common was an animalistic mutation.
"Yes there is, you guys just don't see it because you think he's cute. The claws, the teeth the attitude are all the same believe me. Although Oliver didn't get his fathers height like Graydon - he's tiny like his mother." Kurt tried not to chuckle at the fact that Logan was calling someone 'tiny'. Oliver was a few inches taller than the older man but compared to Sabertooth he had nearly no muscle mass. Sabertooth wasn't anywhere near as graceful as Oliver and Kurt suspected if they were playing cards Victor would kill him is he lost.
"Logan, since it appears you know his full history and you are currently not hiding under your bed would care to fill the rest of us in on it?" Hank asked.
"What's to know - the kid is a nut." Logan said and crossed his arms. Ororoe gave him a look and he let out a deep sigh. "But… he wasn't always that way. As you all know I spent a lot of time traveling the world and about 17 years ago I found myself in Paris where I met Amy Croix - a cirque performer in need of a babysitter."
"And she hired you?" Ororoe asked in disbelief.
"Well the way she told it to me back then was that she needed someone tough and scary to protect her boy while she got back to work. She confessed to me one night that her boy was the product of rape and that she was sure the father would come back and kill both of them if he found out he existed. Despite the violent act the brought him to life she really loved her son, Olivier Alexandre." They were all impressed by Logan's pronunciation of Oliver's real name. "Don't call him that though - only his mother called him Olivier." Kurt grabbed a pen from Xavier's desk and started writing things down.
"So if you were so close what happened?" Xavier encouraged him to continue.
"Well, Oliver was born into performing so it wasn't long before he started doing routines with his mom. During a performance with no netting he fell - by the time I caught him he had mutated. The stress of nearly falling to his death brought out his dormant abilities. For years people thought it was just a costume he wore - Ami made one to match him and the act got a lot of attention. Including the attention of his 'sperm donor'. Victor came back for Oliver - at first I thought to kill him but after a very long, very bloody fight he just vanished with him. I tried to find him - I followed their trail all over Europe but Victor evaded me and took my poor boy with him."
"How old was he then?" Hank asked.
"Seven, just about to turn eight." Logan answered. "I knew if he ever turned up again he wouldn't be the same. There was one point I actually hoped Victor had killed him. To save him from the years of anguish Victor put him through. What he did do to that kid was way worse. He's turned him into a killer. That's why he can't stay here. Who knows what will set him off. And if something does and he slaughters a bunch of innocent kids then Victor gets what he undoubtedly planned for - he set the boy up to be an emotional time bomb. He knew if he left Oliver all alone in the world he's eventually end up here, where he could do the most damage to the people he hates most."
"Logan that's not fair. Oliver is really trying to do better. This was an isolated incident." Kurt said as he gestured to the bandages under his shirt.
"Kurt's right, we shouldn't give up on him." Xavier said. "If nothing else his skills can be put to use as a learning tool for what to expect from Victor. Kurt I'd like you to continue talking to him. Show him real forgiveness and he may begin to trust you."
"I was going to anyway but okay." He shrugged. He couldn't help but feel a little used - he knew they wanted him to ply Oliver for information about his father. Logan seemed to be the only person that didn't want him to go near Oliver. He wondered what Oliver really thought about his former babysitter - maybe Logan was the reason he was afraid to leave his room.