Mixed Feelings

BY : Panduki
Category: X-Men - Animated Series (all) > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1399
Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men Evolution or any characters contained therein and no profit/money is being made from this story, much as it would be delightful to! My OC, Kiro (a.k.a "Ghost"), however, is definitely mine!

Author's Note: Welcome to my story! Please read, enjoy (hopefully!) and review!

 


Time passed rather slowly that week. The professor had insisted that the students resume their normal lives immediately tomorrow morning, and the routine of schooldays ended up helping the students more than they might have been willing to admit. Kurt's absence from school had been explained away as a "family emergency" (which it most certainly was) and the other students had done a remarkable job banding together to help Kiro at school in Kurt's absence. Lance's continued absence (eventually confirmed as him being arrested and imprisoned) had a sobering affect on any other would-be bullies at school, as well, and Kiro's walks through the hall, always with another student from the Institute at his side, were quite blissfully uneventful. His teachers had been told about the nature of his disappearance, that the boy had been abducted, and they were all quite supportive of him, welcoming him back into their classes and easing him back into his studies, Ms. Harrison in particular.

Kitty and Rogue had caught him crying one afternoon while he sat against a tree during lunch break, though, and despite his forced smile and silent reassurances that he was "okay" with a handsign, they knew he was still having trouble coping with his own kidnapping. Not even the first snowball fight of the year on Thursday could lift his spirits too much, though they made a valiant effort. He would pause now and then and rub a rosary he had taken to wearing next to his crucifix from the monastery. A plain wooden one that the girls recognized well: Kurt's rosary. Their fuzzy blue elf's continued absense was gnawing at all of them, and their thoughts drifted to how he was doing...

The professor's face was a careful mask of concentration as he sat outside of Kurt's cell, while Logan leaned against the wall beside him and watched silently. Within, Kurt lay on the bed with the blanket bunched in his hands and a pained expression on his sleeping face. His fur was mussed and matted, and his body was trembling, though with rage or with tears, or some horrible combination of the two, was unclear. He was not quite awake, but not truly asleep right now, either. Neither of them said anything aloud. This conversation was within Kurt's mind...

"Kurt, please, you mustn't think of us that way. We are not traitors, we never have been," Charles said, walking forward towards where Kurt paced. It was a sadly familiar conversation. Kurt had been overtly hostile towards both him and Logan, both awake and in this nightmarish landscape of his mind. They had snatched Lance from him, when he had been so close. So close!! He had failed to protect Kiro because of them! It was THEIR FAULT! All around them was darkness, a grassy field, somewhere. A place Charles had never seen before around Bayville, but Kurt knew all too well. The field outside of his parent's cottage. "Home."

"Then WHY?! Why did you stop me?!! He'll do it again, you know he will!! People like him always do!!!" Kurt wheeled around to snarl at Charles, his face contorted in fury and pain. "They always do!!!" he repeated, and behind him, almost out of view, Charles saw a scene that tore at his heart. Young Kurt, barely a teenager, being dragged toward the treeline. He had been sitting out by the river by their house, unable to sleep and thinking alone. The man was dragging him by his tail. A cruel, righteous man by the name of Klaus, who lived nearby. The same man who had threatened Kurt with a rifle years before. Who now had 'other' means of 'purifying' him. Kurt's sobs and begging echoed across the field as the two of them disappeared into the darkness of the woods.

Kurt fell to his knees before the professor, his form changing to his much younger self that the professor had just seen, sobs coming free from him. The professor crouched by his side. Here, at least, in his projections, he no longer needed that wheelchair. But this was something Kurt had not yet faced. Something Kurt had never admitted, even in their mental discussions. Perhaps, here, was an opportunity for progress. While he crouched beside the boy, Charles said, softly, "You never told me, Kurt. Or even your parents..?"

"How could I? How could anyone?!" Kurt demanded, and lurched to his feet to pace once again, his tail lashing in a visible sign of the anguish in his heart, the deepest pain, shame, and yes, even guilt and self-loathing, that the professor had felt in years. Kurt had believed that man deep down, when he told him he was a demon, who 'deserved' all of this. Who 'needed' this, to be 'pure.' After all, why would God allow this to happen unless He felt it was necessary? Kurt should be 'grateful' for this. It sickened the professor down to his very soul, seeing a man so cruel do that to a boy who was so kind.

"But I'm not kind, professor. I'm not. I.." Kurt said with a shudder, "I'm nothing, compared to Kiro. He is a saint, compared to me." And that, it seemed, was the crux of the matter. If Kurt had endured the assault from Lance instead, he would have perhaps just closed down, as he had before, and accepted it somehow. Internalized it. Rationalized it, somehow. Perhaps as God's punishment for his sins. But Kiro? He couldn't. A boy so gentle, so loving, being given that kind of torture, that kind of punishment. It was unthinkable. Inexcusable.

"Yes, you understand, then?" Kurt said hopefully, and looked up at the professor as their thoughts continued to blend, his and Kurt's, open to one another. "He deserved to die. He needs to die. So he will never hurt anyone again. Not my Kiro, or anyone else!!" Kurt said with a snarl, the hatred coming back like foul pus bursting from an infected sore. But this infection was deep, and had had years to fester. The professor frowned at the sight of it. He had seen this side of Kurt a great deal over the past few days, never quite as bad as when it had been on full display that horrible Sunday evening in the woods, where he had felt the utter conviction in Kurt's heart, his fury, his satisfaction, at the thought of giving Lance what he "deserved" for hurting his beloved.

"Oh, Kurt," the professor said, shivering. It made a sick sort of sense, he know how Kurt could feel this way. But this was Kurt, their Kurt, their fuzzy elf, who was always quick with a joke. Always making everyone around him smile, always cheering them up when they were down. But here, he was talking so earnestly about killing another human in cold blood. Another person. Even someone as horrible as Lance, was still a human.

"But I'm not human, professor. I'm a demon.. a demon who loves an angel.. who sins every day, just by.. by being alive." Kurt snapped, and again fell to his knees, shivering. The bitterness, the self-hatred in his voice, ran so deeply that it made Charles recoil for a moment. But he took Kurt's shoulder firmly, "Stop it, Kurt. Stop it this instant. Look at yourself. Look at this," the professor waved all around them. "This isn't you. This isn't the Kurt I love. The Kurt that we've all come to respect and cherish in our family. The Kurt who goes to church every Sunday, and prays earnestly for forgiveness of sins and happiness for all. Kurt, what would Jesus think?" The professor finally asked, and then shook his head as his voice lowered, asking once again, more insistently, "What would.. Kiro think of you?" as he regarded Kurt with such sadness in his eyes. This, more than anything they had said over the whole week, finally got Kurt's attention. His head snapped up to look at Charles, and his eyes were a jumble of emotions that washed across their mental link in a tide. Shame. Disgust with himself. Pain, at sensing the truth, the bitter truth, in the professor's words. Hurt. Fear. Yes, the fear was the worst. Fear of losing Kiro again, but not to Lance, not to Klaus... but to himself. He had almost done it. He had almost murdered someone. And God help him.. it had been EASY. And he had ENJOYED it.. acting just like the demon people said he was.

Kurt trembled in fright, and once again he was the little boy Charles had just seen, now bruised and filthy from that evil man, Klaus, naked as he knelt on the grass as he clutched at the professor's body...

"Professor... please.." Kurt begged, his voice a low tremor. Full of fear. Mostly fear of himself. "Help me!" he finally begged, his voice collapsing into sobs as he fell to his side and shuddered, in that cold, dark field in his mind...

It had taken some time after that, but the professor had finally calmed Kurt down. While Logan watched, Kurt's thrashing and moaning on the bed, fresh tears leaking from his closed eyelids, had finally slowed, and stopped, and he was still, his brow no longer furrowed as though in the midst of a horrible nightmare. Logan knew that expression well. It was one he had worn himself, during similar sessions with the professor over the years. Sessions which he had thankfully not needed too much these days. But it still made him shift uncomfortably, knowing Kurt was going through much the same thing he had. Rage enough to tear someone limb from limb. And Kurt had very nearly gone through with it. If they hadn't have shown up when they did, to stop him...

"It's worse than I thought," the professor finally said, and Logan looked over to where the professor's eyes were now open, looking at Kurt's supine form with a frown. "Even now, Logan, he's just barely better than he was when we first brought him in." The professor's hands steepled under his chin, and Logan quietly nodded as he looked over the cell.

Kurt had spent his days alternating between pacing around his cell, flying into unchecked rages and slamming himself against the walls, the bars, or the bed, or simply laying still on the bed, staring at nothing, and crying softly. Other times he had prayed in the corner, seemingly earnestly, and whispered in a strange mixture of German and Latin. Logan knew why though, "He's never dealt with it before, Chuck. Ever. You're looking at years of abuse, possibly, but certainly years of pent up emotions from it. He had a bandaid on it before, when he first came to the Institute. But seeing it happen to someone else, especially someone so close to him, just ripped that bandaid off. And you're lookin' at all the poison from a wound that never healed."

The professor nodded with a soft sigh, "A very astute observation, my friend," he said respectfully. "But.. I think we did make a breakthrough just now," he said, managing a pained smile. Logan looked down at him curiously. "A small breakthrough, but one nonetheless," the professor explained, finally nodding once again, "He asked for help."

At that, Logan gave a soft sigh of relief he hadn't realized he had been holding, and smiled, "Attaboy, elf. The first step to gettin' help is askin' for it," he murmured towards Kurt's unconscious form, now curled up on his side and sleeping peacefully for perhaps the first time in a couple weeks. "Indeed, now if only you would remember to do it more often," the professor said with a pointed glance up at Logan. Logan growled, "One thing at a time, Chuck."

Despite themselves, the two of them chuckled, and once again went back down the hall to leave Kurt in peace, the professor quietly discussing his plan to continue their sessions over the next couple days. He could help him some more, he was sure. At least get him stable.. get back in control of himself. But then what...?

-------

"C'mon, Ghost, I ain't gonna bitecha," Logan said sternly, and gestured for Kiro to come forward once again. They were down in the Danger Room, just the two of them, and it was Saturday afternoon. The other students had finished their training session earlier that morning, but Logan had decided to take some extra time to work with Kiro afterwards. The boy was making progress, he was happy to see, especially over the week that he had returned. Logan had thought that he would balk at the idea of more training, but Kiro seemed to latch on to it, and Logan's presence, in the absence of Kurt, perhaps due to their bond. And even though he visibly flinched, and even panicked sometimes, when Logan grabbed him, he was quick to recover, and he had already mastered the skill of how to roll and break a fall properly over the past few days. It was almost like herding cats though, sometimes, and the boy's skittishness and nonviolent demeanor made it a frustrating experience to try to get him to even throw a basic attack at Logan for the purposes of demonstrating their holds and throws.

The two were dressed in gi's, and Kiro's hair had been bound back in a neat ponytail that hung freely down his back, keeping his hair out of his violet eyes. The boy's haunting beauty, especially against the cream-colored gi he wore, was exotic, and Logan found himself just as distracted by memories as he did by his concern over Kiro's recovery. But his focus was steady, and as he stepped forward, the boy awkwardly threw a punch, and Logan smirked at him before teasing, "You punch like a girl, kid," and gently took his hand behind the wrist before slowly demonstrating the technique to throw him. "Wrist goes down like this, your other hand on the elbow, pull their arm forward with their momentum, and push the elbow like so - go with it, kid, that's it, relax and go with it-... annnd.."

Kiro hit the mat with an almost silent whisper of cloth, and rolled smoothly back to his feet, facing Logan with a small tremble of adrenaline. But he was smiling, and Logan nodded critically, "Good. Now it's your turn. Here we go," Logan continued before he stepped forward and threw a punch at Kiro. They were moving at "tai chi speed," and Kiro clearly knew that Logan wasn't going to hurt him, but still the boy was trembling, and his eyes showed a myriad of emotions.

"C'mon kid, work through 'em. Don't let him beat you, you're stronger than he is," Logan said, and grinned playfully, "Even if you do punch like a girl." His heart immediately lifted when he saw Kiro smile in return, and he relaxed as the boy's hand grabbed his wrist, and the other hand locked behind his elbow. Logan pushed forward quickly, giving Kiro the momentum he needed, and soon found himself hitting the mat in a roll, and back on his feet. Kiro stood there, looking surprised. He had just executed his first throw. "Again!" Logan said with a grin, and he punched towards Kiro once more, moving at a moderately faster speed, but still "slow" by most standards. Kiro almost panicked for a moment, but soon had the technique repeated.

Soon, it was almost like a dance between the two of them, as they took turns moving back and forth along the mat and throwing one another. Logan spent the next hour making subtle changes to the technique and teaching Kiro how to change it around. Such as how to turn the move into an elbow snap rather than a throw, or how to crack someone's wrist and render them unable to fight. Even the basic throw itself, Logan had explained earlier, was among the most dangerous techniques a skilled martial-artist could do. "You roll," he had said, "Because you've been trained to. That's the first thing you learn to do, and the most important. But a guy like Duncan Matthews? He'd hit the ground face first and probably break his nose, unless he landed on his head, and broke somethin' much worse." Kiro's sobering nod was completely serious as the lesson continued.

Eventually, it was 3:07 PM, and the two of them were sweating, panting softly, and in the midst of their cooldown exercises when the sound of the Danger Room door opening drew their attention. "Hey, Stripes," Logan said, looking through his legs at her while he and Kiro stretched side by side. "Hay guys," Rogue returned, upside down from their view and looking at the two of them with a grin. "Done bustin' eachother up?" She asked before putting a hand on her hip.

"Benefit of mutual healing powers, Stripes, you'd never know if we had," Logan said with a smirk, though there was a hard edge to his voice when he realized the implications of his words. Beside him, had Kiro dropped to the mat and sat quietly, shivering as he hugged himself, and Logan said, ".. I know, Ghost. Sorry." Clearing her throat, Rogue dropped to a crouch in front of them and smiled with an attempt to distract him, "Well, some o' the guys and Ah were thinkin'- didja wanna go out for some burgers and ice cream, Kiki?" She offered, peering down at Kiro.

Logan groaned, "Great, just what the kid needs. Y'all 'er gonna make him fat," he said, though his words were clearly teasing. Both of them, though, were soon silent at Kiro's shake of his head. "Huh, y'sure?" Rogue asked, and gently reached forward to pat his hand. "You've been kinda cooped up all weekend, Kiki," she said with an edge of concern. But what she saw next made her heart stop for a moment. Kiro looked up at her, tears at the edge of his violet eyes, and pointed at the floor beneath their feet. No, not the floor.

Beneath them.

The detention cells.

He then shook his head once again, and gave Rogue's hand a squeeze before he bowed his head apologetically. Rogue smiled, though there was very little humor in it, and nodded, "Yeah, Ah don't blame ya, Kiki. Well, if ya change yer mind, just lemme know.. Maybe we could grab somethin' for Kurt, too?" She finally suggested in a flash of brilliance, her voice a bit strained, after giving a questioning glance toward Logan. Logan, however, nodded before he said, "Check with Chuck first, but.. yeah, maybe that'd do the both of you some good."

That, however, did cause Kiro to perk up, and he looked back and forth between them with a bright, hopeful smile. Logan again nodded, and smiled, "Go on then, Ghost. But do us all a favor and take a shower first," he said with an exagerrated wave of his hand in front of his face. Rogue chuckled and grabbed Kiro's hand, gently pulling him up to his feet, before the two of them set off across the danger room. Logan watched them go with a furrowed brow, though a small, hopeful smile of his own, before he began to tidy away the training mats on the floor.

-----------

Much to their relief, the professor had acquiesced. "In fact," he said as he sat behind his desk in the study, where Rogue and Kiro (hair still damp from his shower) had been standing, "I was actually going to invite you to come see Kurt later today. He is doing better. Much better than I had initially feared." This caused both Kiro and Rogue to perk up considerably, though Kiro paused at the professor's next words. "Rogue, would you mind waiting outside for a moment?" the professor asked, his voice kind, but firm.

"Sure, professor," Rogue said, and gave Kiro's arm a soft pat before she went out the door, closing it softly behind her. The study was quiet for a moment, with the soft sound of the wind outside and the heater inside the only noise, other than the soft, muffled sounds of the other students at the institute moving around and talking in other rooms.

"How have you been feeling, Kiro?" the professor said, while he rolled his wheelchair around his desk to stop beside the albino teenager. Kiro seemed uncertain on how to answer, and finally the professor offered him a hand with a wry smile. Kiro reached forward to take the professor's hand, and along with the swell of pleasure from Kiro's gifts, there was a glimpse into Kiro's emotions over the past few days...

Worry. Fear. Pain. Nightmares from his assaults. So many of them, over such a horrible week. Waking up from those nightmares, sobbing, and alone in his and Kurt's room, laying in Kurt's bed. Hugging Kurt's pillow and breathing in his scent, trying desperately to calm down. Wishing Kurt were there. Knowing he was there, but he couldn't see him. Confusion. Wishing he could help Kurt somehow. Wishing he could even just hold his hand. Trying without success to write a letter to the nuns back home, and breaking down in tears at the thought of lying to them about how he was doing, even if it meant not making them worry. And then at school, everyone so kind, but the classes were so challenging. Difficult to focus, even with Ms. Harrison's patient voice reassuring him he was doing just fine. Just fine. Words all blurring together. The occasional glare or jeer at school, looking over his shoulder as he walked home, terrified that someone might snatch him away again, even with Scott at his side..

... the professor released his hand, and he nodded gravely. "Mm, I understand, Kiro. I've been meaning to ask you," he said as he turned in his chair to fetch something from his desk. A small pamphlet. "Hank and I think that counseling might help you come to terms with your assault. I am a teacher, Kiro, and Hank is a doctor. Neither of us are psychiatrists," he admitted with a shrug. At Kiro's confused look, he smiled, "Think of it like a doctor for your mind and emotions," he explained patiently, tapping his forehead. "I have certainly fulfilled the role plenty of times in my life, for friends, family, students, fellow teachers, but I would rather you have the help of someone who not only knows what you have gone through, but is also trained and educated specifically to help you with it. Her name," he reached over to tap the small black and white photograph on the pamphlet, "is Dr. Lluy (pronounced Louie)."

Kiro blinked and listened patiently as the professor explained. He and Dr. Lluy were friends from university, and she had gone on to become a psychiatrist specializing in domestic and spousal abuse cases, after suffering such abuse herself over several years in her youth. Something that the professor himself had actually helped her sort through. Kiro looked down at the pamphlet in his hands, still unable to read most of the words, and looked at the picture. Dr. Lluy's picture was a formal portrait, and the attractive woman had a kind smile on her pale-skinned face as she sat behind a desk in a conservative business suit. Her hair, perhaps blonde or light brown from the picture, was neatly braided and her dark eyes were kind.

"She specializes in abuse and rape victims, Kiro, and also couples counseling," the professor concluded, gently taking the pamphlet back from Kiro and setting it down once again on his desk. "She is one of the few people I would trust with such an affair, and she also knows the truth about our school and the students here," the professor said with a nod. "She lives here in Bayville, and works at one of the local hospitals, as well as volunteering at a domestic violence shelter." When Kiro once again nodded, the professor gave a patient smile. "I think she will be able to help you and Kurt, Kiro. And it has gotten to the point where I am about at the limit of my knowledge. Kurt is.. stable, now," the professor said, choosing his words carefully, before he continued, "But now he needs an expert's care to heal further, and he needs you by his side, as I know you need him."

"The decision is ultimately up to you, Kiro," Charles finally said, "But I would like you to think about it, while you are out with Rogue and the others. We will come down together when you return, and visit Kurt. I'd like you to make your decision then."

Kiro's sudden hug surprised the professor, who rocked back in his chair a bit as his arms wrapped around Kiro in return, and he smiled at both the flood of pleasure and warmth from Kiro's gifts, as well as the gratitute he felt like a river from the boy's mind. "It's alright, Kiro. We're a family. And we help one another. Now, go get some 'help' for Kurt," he gently teased as they drew apart, "You remember his favorite flavors, yes?" He asked with a playful smile.

Kiro nodded, and flashed Charles a thumbs up with a grin, before he trotted to the door and went out into the hall where Rogue had been waiting.

------------

That was one of the great benefits of having Bobby along: nobody had to worry about their ice cream melting! Kiro had shaken his head at their offer to eat in the restaurant, as he was clearly in a hurry to get back to the Institute and visit Kurt. Loaded up with a trio of gutbuster burgers and a selection of ice cream, Kiro sat between Bobby and Roberto in the back seat of Scott's car, while Scott and Rogue were in the front seats. Bobby was the "guardian of the ice cream" and Roberto was the "warmer of the burgers," as Scott had teased, and they were taking the joke somewhat seriously as they went along the road back to the Institute. In Kurt's absence, his jokes had been missed, and the others had tried (with mixed success) to bring some of his usual humor back into their lives.

Surprisingly, the normally straight-laced Scott had managed some of the most success, perhaps due to his and Jean's close relationship with Kurt in particular. And Rogue could tell that Kurt's seeming descent into madness had torn Scott up in particular. Her assurance from the professor that Kurt was doing better had brightened all of their spirits, though, and soon enough they were back in the Institute. Kiro had seemed about ready to dash through the halls in his haste to be back at the professor's office. The professor, however, was already waiting for him at the door, perhaps receiving a warning from Scott ahead of time. The two had wasted no time in going down the hall to the elevator after Kiro had grabbed some freshly chilled (thanks to Bobby's timely touch) sodas from the refrigerator, and soon enough, they were now going down the corridor to where Kurt had been held for the past week.

"Kurt, I've got a little surprise for you, given your progress the past few days," the professor announced with a smile, and Kurt looked up from where he had been sitting on his bed with first confusion, and then such joy that Charles could feel his heart melt a bit in his chest. "Mein engel..!" Kurt whispered, and rushed forward to stick a hand through the bars, touching Kiro's face affectionately.

"Kurt, if you would step back a bit, I think we can finally do away with those," the professor said kindly, and after inserting a key into the wall nearby, the bars slid slowly and smoothly up to the ceiling. Kiro barely had time to set down their food on a folding tray nearby before he was hugged tightly by Kurt, and his momentary fright was quelled down under the force of their combined tears as they held one another tightly. Kurt whispered, over and over again, in German, the same thing.

The professor lowered his gaze as he understood its meaning. 'I'm sorry.' Kiro seemed to understand as well, and just shook his head against Kurt's, and finally silenced him with a kiss, stunning Kurt into silence even as he shuddered in the pleasure from Kiro's touch. After giving the two a couple more minutes, the professor smiled and gently interrupted them. "Kurt, why not have a seat and enjoy your meal together?" He offered, gesturing to the bed once again. Kiro slid over the tray of their food, and sat down on the bed beside Kurt, his arm immediately slipping around Kurt's side as though afraid Kurt might vanish at a moment's notice. Kurt, meanwhile, looked down at the tray, his golden eyes widening at the bounty that awaited them, still steaming (and chilly, respectively) from Roberto and Bobby's help on the way back.

"Gutbusters!" Kurt said with a grin, the first grin the professor could remember seeing on him in a long time. "Oh, beloved," he said a wash of gratitude, the pleasant feelings doing a great deal to drown the shame, grief, and anger he had been wallowing in over the past week. "And.. vas.. ice cream!! And sodas!! Oh mein Gott! Ich liebe dich!!" Kurt gushed, and beside him, Kiro giggled silently, even as fresh tears leaked from his eyes. The professor watched with a small smile. He had insisted on coming with Kiro partially as a precaution, just in case Kurt backslid, somehow, but he was pleasantly surprised, and relieved beyond measure, to see that his precaution had been unnecessary. Their sessions over the past week, those first few days in particular, had been painful. Scary, even, seeing the kind of pent-up rage, resentment, grief, and agony that Kurt had kept in his deepest, darkest thoughts. But this, this was a glimpse of the old Kurt they had all grown to love, and seeing him again gave the professor renewed hope, especially after the quiet, tearful breakthroughs that they had made since Thursday afternoon.

The significance of the meal hadn't been lost on the professor, either. He had sensed, from Kiro's thoughts, that this had been their first meal as a couple, on a date. Burgers and ice cream. So simple, and yet for them, so significant. As they ate, and talked (well, Kurt talked, and Kiro listened and responded non-verbally), the professor quietly observed them, occasionally responding to questions about the other students, school, the mountain of work his teachers no doubt had waiting for him. They had already discussed Lance earlier in the week, and the professor had revealed that not only was Lance facing criminal charges for everything he had done("A slam-dunk case, as the saying goes, considering all of the evidence at our disposal"), but even after he had been prosecuted in civil court, he would be incarcerated at one of SHIELD's facilities specifically for rogue mutants. The very same kind of prisons that had securely held dangerous mutants like Sabertooth without even the slightest hint of trouble. So the professor was pleased to hear that Lance, it seemed, was nowhere on Kurt's radar, at least not right now.

Finally, though, as Kurt and Kiro lounged against the wall beside the bed, their meal finished and arms around one another, just silently sitting together, the professor spoke. "Kiro, have you given any thought as to my offer?" The professor finally asked. Kiro looked up, then, and Kurt looked back and forth between the two of them in curiousity. His rosary hung once again around his neck, and Kurt had clearly been touched by Kiro wearing it for him while he was in such a dark place in his mind. Kiro squeezed Kurt's hand in his lap, before he nodded at the professor's question. Charles then smiled, and canted his head, as he asked gently, "And..?"

Kiro then nodded once again, and gave Kurt a tight hug. Kurt just looked more confused, and the professor explained in a relieved tone, "Counseling, Kurt. Kiro has just agreed to attend counseling. And, I would like you to go with him, please." The request was polite, and gentle. But still Kurt's expression faltered, and he lowered his gaze, saying nothing for a moment. The professor had been rather respectful of Kurt in his time at the Institute, especially his first few months here. He had been welcomed with open arms by Scott and Jean, and had extended that welcome himself to Kitty and Rogue, later. But the professor hadn't missed his own occasional bouts of depression and mood swings, and had offered to help him. But Kurt had begged him to let him deal with such "personal matters" on his own. The professor watched as the dilemma played across Kurt's face. Clearly, Kurt knew the professor wasn't making such a request lightly, and he also knew, better than anyone, how deep his problems went, as the professor and he had waded through the hell inside his mind over the past week. Kurt was still ashamed at the things he had said, the way he had behaved. The bruises on his arms and hands from his outbursts in his cell that were only now healed, thanks to his lover's touch.

His lover. Kiro. Beside him, supporting him.

He needed this, too. This was for him, wasn't it? Not just for Kurt. Kurt lifted Kiro's hand in his, and gently kissed Kiro's knuckles, before he swallowed the gorge in his throat, and finally nodded. "Okay, professor. For Kiro, and for you, for .. everything you've done," he said, his voice much stronger than he felt just then. The professor rolled into the cell with them, and smiled. "For you as well, Kurt. For all of us," he added, reaching over to pat Kurt's leg.

Kiro gave Kurt another tight hug, and the three of them sat in companionable silence for a moment longer, as the professor thought, and finally said with a smile, "Kurt, what do you say you head back upstairs, now?" Kurt and Kiro drew apart to look at the professor. Hope, uncertainty, and trepidation in Kurt's eyes, and surprise, relief, and happiness in Kiro's. "Professor, are you sure?" Kurt finally asked, and looked at the walls in shame. They had subtle scratches from his claws, and his shed fur was all over from where he had thrown himself against the walls in a rage, venting at his failure to.. to do something so horrible.

"I have confidence in you, Kurt. And I trust you. I know what you are made of," the professor said kindly, "You've begun to work through some of your own personal demons, this past week. Demons that you have kept hidden, even from yourself for the most part, until now. And they unfortunately are nowhere near as kind, loving, playful and gentle as you are," the professor added with a sad smile. Kurt blushed and averted his gaze, while Kiro gently ran a hand up and down his chest. "But your progress the past couple days has been very, very good. And I think it's time for you to return to your room. If you do, however, feel your control slipping, even the slightest bit," the professor said, "I will be there to help you. As will the others. And particularly.." the professor trailed off, and smiled when Kiro raised a hand where Kurt could see it.

Kurt bit back a sob, and hugged Kiro tightly to his chest once again. Kiro flinched only a little from the hug, and made up for it by gently beckoning Kurt into a kiss.

With a warm smile, the professor turned his back respectfully to give the two some privacy, and touched his temple to send out a small series of messages.



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