Marie and Bobby walked from the meeting silently. The enormity of the past day was still catching up with both of them.
"Can I kiss you?" Bobby asked quietly.
"You know what will happen." Marie said with warning.
"I know. I'm just feeling very alone and need a kiss... if you don't mind." Bobby asked with hesitation.
Marie nodded and pulled Bobby into her arms.
Bobby moved carefully into the kiss and closed his eyes.
The kiss was brief, only a few seconds, but Marie was flooded with Bobby's powers and thoughts. She pulled away, not used to feeling so... assaulted... by the thoughts of someone when she absorbed their abilities.
Bobby looked at her with worry and asked, "Did I do something wrong?"
"No Bobby, you're just so upset that I got a big fistful of your thoughts when we touched... that's never happened before." Marie said as she sorted through the foreign images in her mind.
Bobby went pale as he realized what she just said.
"YOU FUCKER! YOU COMPLETE PRICK!" Marie screamed and took two steps back.
"Marie, I can explain..." Bobby began, then trailed off as he noticed most of the X-men standing and watching.
"YOU USED ME! I WAS YOUR COVER SO NO ONE WOULD KNOW THAT YOU'RE GAY!" Marie screamed with hurt and accusation.
"It's not like that." Bobby said with a blush that started at his toes.
"Oh God! And you dumped John... YOU DIDN'T EVEN HAVE THE DECENCY TO DUMP HIM! You sonofabitch! You just left him hanging!" Marie screamed, then noticed John watching from the doorway of the dining room.
"John, will you come here?" Marie asked quietly, which seemed an extreme change from her screaming of a moment before.
John walked to her spellbound.
Marie pulled him close and pressed her gloved hand against the back of his head to rest his head on her shoulder.
"He used me too John. He thought by being with the untouchable girl, he could hide who he was from everyone. I didn't know John, I swear. I never would have looked at him if I had a clue that you were together." Marie said tenderly to John, but everyone in the hall could hear clearly.
"You... you can see his thoughts?" John asked carefully.
"Yeah, I've got a gut full of them. Is there anything you want to know?" Marie offered with tenderness.
"Did he ever love me?" John asked and pulled back to look at her with tearful eyes.
"No. Bobby never loved anyone but himself." Marie said and pulled John close again.
* * * * *
Tara looked on with worry as Dawn went from book to book frantically searching.
"Please Dawn. Come down stairs and eat something, you need to take a break." Tara said with pleading.
"I can't. If I stop, I'll have to go back through all this again. Over half these books are written in demon languages and I have to translate the headings and sometimes the entire page before the spell to find out if it's what I need... I'll have something later." Dawn said and went back to work.
Tara moved closer behind Dawn and asked, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
Dawn stopped and looked up to see the concern in Tara's eyes.
"Yeah, if you wouldn't mind, you could bring me some of that food you were talking about. I can't leave what I'm doing but I can eat something while I'm doing it." Dawn said and let her love show in her expression.
Tara nodded quickly and left the room.
[I don't deserve her... but I will do my best to be worthy and never cause her pain.] Dawn thought and returned to her research.
* * * * *
Mystique was walking outside, trying to get away from the conflicts in the mansion that were, frankly, none of her concern.
She heard a sound and noticed two people on the roof of the mansion. She could just make out that one of them was Kurt and decided to investigate.
Assuming the form of a large bird, she flew to the roof and landed well out of their sight, then in the form of a cat, she made her way stealthily to listen to the conversation of the two men.
"You know that cutting yourself doesn't take the pain away." Warren whispered, still holding tight in the embrace.
"It is my forgiveness." Kurt said in a tearful voice.
"It is mutilation... I understand, but this isn't the way." Warren said in as soft a tone as he could manage.
"You couldn't understand." Kurt said and pulled away.
Warren pulled open his shirt to reveal a patch of skin crisscrossed with a basket weave pattern of scarification. After waiting for a moment to be sure that Kurt had seen, he closed his shirt again and said in a whisper, "Mine weren't for forgiveness, my were to prove to myself that I could still feel."
Kurt stood in shock, never knowing that anyone but he had ever done such a thing.
"Kurt, it took me a few years of therapy to get past it but now I understand... you're hurting... inside. By hurting outside, you make the pain real and release it... the problem with that is, that when you're done, whatever hurt you is still there... and still hurting you... it's never enough." Warren said sadly and moved cautiously to take hold of Kurt again.
"How can you know? What pain do you have? You are beautiful, like an angel. Not a hideous demon like me." Kurt finished with loathing.
"That's how. You assume that you can understand me and my life by my appearance. People may look at you and think 'Demon' and run away, but they look at me and think 'Angel' and pretend to like me. Given the choice between loneliness of being shunned and false friends who want to be seen with me... I don't know... Both are pretty lonely." Warren finished sadly.
"Mien mutter, she left me to die because I am this monster. The people of the circus, they find me unt take me in." Kurt said in desperation.
"And my parents died in a plane crash. They were very wealthy and when they died I hadn't seen them in nearly a month. I can't remember anytime in my life when I sat down with them as a family and did... anything. I was raised by a governess and the household staff. I'm not comparing my pain to yours, it's like trying to compare apples to sheet metal. I'm just saying that I have my own pain that drives me, and I understand yours... as much as any other person can." Warren said truthfully.
After a long minute of silence Warren said, "My name is Warren, I don't think we've been introduced."
"I am Kurt, known to many as 'The Amazing Nightcrawler'." Kurt said in a practiced tone.
"Kurt, will you let me show you another way to deal with the pain? I can't promise that it will be easy, but it will be much healthier than this." Warren said and motioned to the knife.
"I cannot promise but to try." Kurt said shyly.
"I'll never ask for more than you can give. Would you like for me to fly you down?" Warren asked, just wondering how Kurt had managed to get on the roof.
"I can teleport." Kurt said in response to Warren's curious look.
"Okay. But would you *like* to fly with me? Flying is more fun when I'm not alone." Warren asked hopefully.
"Yah, zat would be good." Kurt said shyly.
Warren opened his arms to Kurt and when they were in a firm embrace, Warren lifted them into the morning sky.
* * * * *
Mystique watched the events unfold before her and finally changed back to her true form.
[You were loved. I loved you so much That I gave you away to protect you.] She thought sadly before changing again and flying away.
* * * * *
"Marie, can we talk?" Bobby asked hesitantly from the doorway of the common room where she sat alone.
"Go away Bobby." She said with disgust.
"Marie, I'm sorry. Please let me explain..." Bobby began but was interrupted.
"No Bobby, let me explain. I didn't just pick up stuff about me and John. I know what you did to your brother. If you don't want everyone you ever met to know about that, you'll stay away from me." Marie said with menace and turned away.
Bobby went pale, but couldn't leave it like that.
"Marie, we were just kids... you know it didn't mean anything. It was just messing around." Bobby began his standard rationalization.
Marie thought for a moment before saying, "Its called rape."