Disclaimer: I don't own the X-Men (and I hate having to type that every single time I write a new chapter on a fanfiction).

Fur

Kurt Wagner, a seventeen-year-old boy at the Xavier Institute, was lounging on one of the couches in the rec. room, staring up at the ceiling at the poster that his friend Evan had put there of his favorite band. This would have been a normal scene, had it not been for Kurt.

Kurt was a mutant with a very extreme physical mutation and a very interesting ability. Kurt had short, velvety, dark blue fur covering his whole body; a three and a half foot long prehensile, barbed tail; almost dog-like legs; three fingers on each hand; two toes on each foot; pure gold eyes with white pupils; pointed ears; and fangs. He had the power to teleport, or disappear one place and reappear in another. When he was younger, living in Germany, where many people were quite religious, they had thought him a demon, a spy of the Devil, and a curse, like a plague.

Despite his shocking appearance, Kurt was the lightest and happiest person at the Institute, where Charles Xavier, a powerful telepath, had welcomed them all with open arms and taught them to control and understand their powers. Kurt was the prankster and the joker, always smiling, and always laughing at a prank he had just pulled or a joke he had just told.

Today, however, he was in a mood. As he lay, glaring murderously at the poster on the ceiling, Kitty Pryde walked into the room. At first she didn't see him, but then she spotted the telltale blue tail hanging over the arm of the couch, tip twitching agitatedly.

"Hey Kurt," Kitty said, walking over to hang over the back of the couch. "Wanna go into town and, like, do something?"

Kurt didn't take his eyes off the poster as he answered.

"No."

"Why? What's, like, wrong; other than that poster?" Kitty followed Kurt's eyes.

"Zere's nozing vrong wiz ze poster." Kurt said almost sharply.

"Then why are you, like, so angry?" Kitty pressed. It was very unlike Kurt to be so sullen and moody.

"I'm not angry. I'm zinking." Kurt replied, closing his eyes.

"What are you thinking about?"

"Zings,"

"What sort of things?"

"Difficult zings,"

"Tell me."

"Nein. I don't need to burden you viz my problems."

"I want to be burdened. It'll give me something to do."

"Fine."

"Tell me anything."

"I got a letter from my brozzer a few days ago . . ." Kurt started, opening his eyes and looking at the poster again.

"What was it about?" Kitty asked sympathetically.

"Back home, zings are going badly . . . my seester, Jimaine, lost her job,"

"That's too bad,"

"But zat's not all. My brozzer, Stefan, vas convicted for ze murder of a girl. He didn't kill her! He never vould do anyzing like zat!" Kurt said, talking more to himself now.

"Wow. That's really awful," Kitty said, her eyes wandering to other things, like Evan standing in the doorway. She ignored him for now.

"Ze worst zing iz . . ." Kurt trailed off. He closed his eyes again and tears fell from the corners into his fur.

"Go on. It'll feel better once you, like, tell someone." Kitty prompted.

"My mozzer vas killed in a riot." Kurt choked, taking a shuddering breath. "Ze people found out she vas a sorceress und zey vent into her tent und brought her out into ze town sqvare . . ."

"Keep going. It's the only way." Kitty pushed.

"Und zey beat her vile zey made Stefan und Jimaine vatch. Ven she vas almost dead, Stefan says zat zey burned her at ze stake. Stefan said zat zey were demanding she tell zem vere I vas, so zey could kill me, ze demon . . . but she vouldn't tell zem, so zey burned her. And zey call me ze monster! Zey are monsters! Venever I vent outside ze Zirkus in Bavaria, zey vould chase me und pull my tail und try to beat me.

"Vonce, a man named Connor caught me und kept me in a cage for days . . . und he vould beat "ze demon" all ze time, trying to kill me, until vone time, Jimaine und Stefan found me. Und jetzt, sie haben meine liebe mutter tod gemacht! Mördern!" Kurt yelled, his accent becoming thicker until he was finally saying in German, 'And now they have killed my mother! Murderers!' and standing up suddenly, his tail lashing with his rage and grief. Evan, standing in the doorway, recoiled slightly at Kurt's harsh cry. Kitty looked genuinely scared.

"That's . . ." Kitty was at a loss for words. Evan backed away down the hall.

"But you'll stand by me, right?" Kurt asked Kitty, his rage fading. He seemed to shrink visibly as he turned to face her, picking his tail up and running his fingers over the flat, arrowhead-shaped barb.

"Definitely, Kurt. You're, like, my best friend. I'd never leave you just because of the way you look," Kitty assured him, still quite scared so she didn't approach him.

"Jimaine und Stefan can't show zeir faces in town again, or even in ze Zirkus because it vas discovered zat Margali, my mozzer, vas a sorceress. Now, zey're ze children of a sorceress. It's like a taboo." Kurt said sadly. "Und I can't do anyzing about it."

"Aw, Kurt," Kitty murmured, coming around the couch to wrap her arms around Kurt's hunched frame. He kept his eyes on his tail.

"I don't know vat to do anymore," Kurt said quietly. "Everyzing's so confusing now, people just can't tolerate us so zey kill us. Sometimes, I vonder vat it vould be like if I vasn't a mutant . . . vould I grow up viz normal parents, hating mutants for freaks, vould I not know, or vould I just tolerate and live viz zem? It seems zat ze only zing in my life zat doesn't change viz every shifting shadow iz you, Kätzchen, and God. Only two zings I can rely on in a vorld of a million . . ."

Kitty squeezed him gently in a comforting way.

"Whaddya say we, like, go gorge ourselves on something we really don't need to eat?" Kitty asked with a smile. Kurt stayed silent for a moment, then replied.

"Okay,"

"Right then!" Kitty pulled him by the hand through the rec. room down the hallways and staircase to the kitchen. Thankfully, no one was there. Kurt sat down in a chair with his chin resting on the table as his eyes followed Kitty around the kitchen, getting ice cream, bowls, and spoons before going to sit down across from him. Just as Kitty was about to make contact with the seat of the chair, there was a loud yelp.

"Hey! Hey! I'm here!" a female voice spoke hurriedly, and a young Korean lady with short, straight black hair materialized in the chair.

"Who are you?" Kitty demanded, straightening up quickly. She glared at the girl.

"I'm Milani, and I just got here today – I'm a new recruit. Who are you?" Milani said, looking from Kitty, angry, to Kurt, mildly surprised. "And what's up with you?"

"I'm Kitty Pryde, and this is Kurt Wagner. We've lived here at the Institute for about three years." Kitty said, a harsh edge to her voice. She phased through the table to sit on Kurt's right.

"I'm a mutant, just like you. I happen to look different." Kurt said shortly, keeping his accent to a minimum.

"So what do you guys do?" Milani asked conversationally, but Kurt and Kitty weren't much in the mood to talk. They answered reluctantly out of common courtesy.

"I phase through solid objects." Kitty said, waving her hand through the table a couple of times.

"I teleport." Kurt muttered without emotion. He started on his ice cream as Professor Xavier's voice sounded in each of their heads. Milani jumped, but Kurt and Kitty were unfazed.

Attention all new recruits: there will be an orientation in the Recreation Room in two minutes with Logan and Scott. Attendance is mandatory if you wish to stay at the Institute.

"Guess I'd better go now . . . I'll probably get lost and show up ten minutes late if I don't," Milani said with a smile and left the kitchen. Kitty ate her ice cream in silence, watching Kurt cautiously. In her Family Studies class at school, they were studying the grieving process. After the initial shock wears off, someone going through the grieving process can become depressed and suicidal. She really hoped Kurt didn't become suicidal.

Kurt pushed his bowl aside and put his chin back down on the table, eyes unfocused. He was lost in a confusing, stinging haze of emotion, mostly grief, rage, and depression.

"C'mon, Kurt. We're going into town whether you like it or not." Kitty said, pulling Kurt away from the table and up to his room. Kitty scrounged around and found his image inducer, and held it out to him, expecting him to put it on. He stared blankly at it as if he didn't know what it was. Kitty sighed and rolled her eyes, then strapped it onto his wrist and pressed the button.

Kurt's image flickered and there stood a tall boy with pale skin and dark black hair, almost indigo. His face wore the same shell-shocked expression.

"Kurt," Kitty murmured, coming up close to him so they were almost touching. "Kurt, can you say something? Please?"

Kurt blinked and looked down at her and seemed to come to his senses.

"Sorry. I just can't concentrate," he said distractedly.

"Well, you don't need to concentrate to drive Scott's car, do you?" Kitty teased. Kurt smiled sadly.

"I zink I do, but vatever. I'll try anyvays. You, being a leetle girl, can't drive." Kurt teased, a touch of his spirit coming back.

As Kitty and Kurt drove down the driveway in Scott's borrowed red-and-white convertible, Kurt told himself to try to be normal.

This is hard, Mutti just died. I have to not mope so much. The Professor and Jean will get in my head if I don't at least act like I'm happy.

The day was a nice, rather balmy day in early June. School wasn't out yet, but it would be in three days, and the atmosphere around the Mansion was infectious, Kurt had to admit. It still felt good to have the wind whipping his long hair again, as if to remind him what he would miss if he withdrew into himself.

Once in Bayville, Kurt parked the car in the mall parking lot and hopped out, choosing not to open the door, but swing himself over it as Kitty giggled.

He's coming back to himself, Kitty thought. Still, there were subtle differences in his mannerisms. He didn't smile as much, and he didn't talk as much as he normally did, but he acted more like his old self now. It's great that he's acting like this, but he's probably still really depressed on the inside. You don't get a letter from your brother saying your mother was beaten to death then turn around and be all happy. Maybe if I talked to the Professor, he could help with some of the grief.

The pair strolled down the sidewalk, nobody taking a second glance at them. Kitty didn't really know where they were going, and she didn't think Kurt did either. They were walking past the loading bay for the supermarket when Kurt's ears picked up a small sound.

"Keety – listen. You hear zat?" he stopped dead and held out his arm, ears pricked. Kitty shook her head. Wait – there it was again. "It's coming from down zere,"

Kitty turned her head to where Kurt was pointing. The loading bay was empty and bright, but Kurt seemed to sense something down there. He started walking towards the Dumpster slowly, stopping every so often.

"What do you hear? It's, like, really bugging me," Kitty said, following Kurt. She was sure that if Kurt's tail hadn't been hidden down one leg of his pants and covered by a hologram, it would be swishing with anticipation. When he reached the Dumpster, he stretched up and looked into it. His eyes widened slightly in shock, and he reached a hand down into it. He pulled it back up and Kitty saw what seemed to be a small, filthy, bedraggled pompom.

"Keety, do you know vat zis iz?" again, Kitty shook her head.

"It looks like a . . ."

"A keeten."