Mixed Feelings

BY : Panduki
Category: X-Men - Animated Series (all) > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1182
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!

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"Forgive me, father, for I have sinned, it has been two weeks since mein last confession," Kurt said softly, his heart racing more than he thought it would.

He was tired. The alarm had gone off at 6 AM sharp, and Kurt had very nearly gone back to sleep before he realized it was Sunday morning. He had to go to Mass, especially today of all days. Kiro had blearily looked up at him, and Kurt had given him an apologetic explanation. But Kiro's eyes had immediately cleared, and he clutched at Kurt's arm, pointing to himself and then to the door after giving Kurt's arm a squeeze.

Kurt had felt his heart melt all over again, and he smiled, "Together, then."

The mass had ended less than an hour ago, and Kurt was the last in the line to confess. He knew this would be hard, and possibly take a while. Plus, he thought darkly, perhaps part of him didn't want the others in the congregation to think ill of him, especially since he had a reputation for being a "good lad" and the only young man (other than Kiro) among a congregation that was primarily middle aged and elderly Catholics.

So here he sat in the confessional booth, his head whirling, heart pounding, and hands trembling in his lap.

He had done this so many times before, yet this time, it felt so much more significant. His earlier sins felt so insignificant. Thinking impure thoughts about some of the Institute girls, sneaking into class late, drinking when he had found Logan's stash (though Logan had let him off with a mere ass-chewing for that, considering his German background, "All ya had to do was ASK, elf, I'd have given ya a bottle. This is stealing."), and just simple pettiness with his pranks at school and the institute. Those were venial sins, that needn't even really be confessed, depending on who you asked.

But this, this was really something. This could be, and perhaps was, considered a mortal sin. And despite the supposed anonymity of the confessional, his voice and accent were unique among the congregation. His heart twisted with fear as he waited. Logan's words from yesterday continued to replay through his mind. Perhaps his problem was not with God, but with the church's doctrine. He had been so certain of it last night. But now, at the moment of confession, he was afraid. He could already feel his eyes almost burning.

But he had to do this. He had to. At least to confess, and come clean, and make his decision with a clear conscious. Even if it meant giving up on the church. But never God. Never.

"Be at peace, my son. I am here to listen. Name your sins, that they may be recognized." The priest spoke, his words as kind and earnest as always. Kurt had known him for a couple of years now. Father Gregory. A large, imposing looking man with the heart and demeanor of a teddy bear. A salt and pepper beard and thinning hair showed his age, but there were times when he seemed as chipper as a schoolboy, a twinkle in his bright blue eyes even when performing the solemn rite of communion. He sometimes even had what he called "tennis shoe Masses" where he invited the congregation to come casual, and gave the Mass mostly in English, with a focus on discussing contemporary matters. It was one of the many things Kurt liked and respected about him.

The fact that he was about to potentially disappoint the man hurt him. A lot.

"I.. I have only one confession to make, father," Kurt began, his voice catching in his throat. He knew he sounded on the verge of tears, but he swallowed them down and took a breath to calm himself. "I.. I am," His voice failed him.

"Go ahead, son," the priest encouraged. His voice was so kind.

Kurt drew a shuddering breath. "I am.. in love with another boy. And I have committed the sin of .. sodomy," Kurt confessed. He felt one tear fall, then another.

There was a small sigh from the other side of the screen, and Father Gregory responded, "I see.."

There was silence for several minutes. A small, fearful voice in Kurt's darkest corner of his mind wondered if Father Gregory would demand that he leave.

But he didn't.

"What is his name?" Father Gregory asked. And his voice was gentle.

Kurt wiped a tear, and replied, "Kiro. His name is Kiro."

He heard the soft sound of wood creaking, and thought that perhaps Father Gregory had leaned forward in his seat. "Oh.. Kiro? That young man you've been with the past month?" He asked, surprise in his voice.

Kurt nodded, then realized the priest probably couldn't see him. "Ja, him," Kurt answered, his voice still tight.

"Such a quiet lad, I remember you saying he was mute when you introduced us, that first Sunday," Father Gregory mused, the soft whisper of cloth coming from the other side of the confessional. "He seems like a nice boy. More like a monk than a teenager."

Despite his aching heart, Kurt chuckled, "He.. he almost is one, father, remember?."

"That's right!" Father Gregory answered, chuckling softly, "I remember you saying he had been raised in a nunnery as a foundling. I can certainly see why the nuns took him in," Father Gregory mused. "And you say you two are in love?"

"We are, father, I.. I have tried to deny it but, I simply cannot." Kurt said, his voice barely above a whisper. He knew Kiro was outside the booth, perhaps still sitting in the pew near the altar, waiting for him. Kiro had seemed puzzled at the idea of confession, but then, why wouldn't he? If he made a confession, it would have to be written down, and perhaps burned immediately afterwards, to maintain the tradition of secrecy.

"And you mentioned sodomy.. you have consummated this love, so to speak?" Father Gregory asked, and Kurt was relieved to hear no disgust in the man's voice. Nor even the stern disapproval he had feared. The priest was simply speaking matter of factly, and his words were quiet and gentle.

"Ja, father. We.. we kissed, several times over the past couple weeks, but we .." He found himself blushing and knew it would show through his image inducer. "We.. made love, Friday evening.. and last night." He ducked his gaze, even though all that was in front of him was the wooden wall of the confessional.

"Such a nice young man. You and him both," Father Gregory observed, "I can certainly understand what you might see in one another," he continued. But Kurt sensed he was leading up to something.

The priest sighed, and was quiet for several minutes. Finally, he spoke. "Kurt, you must understand that the church views this as a sin. It doesn't mean that you aren't a good man, or him. There are certainly worse sins you two could be committing, especially on a weekend."

Despite himself, Kurt smiled and chuckled a bit, "Ja, I.. I know, father."

Father Gregory continued, "Some would call this a mortal sin, Kurt. A grave offense against your church, and God. They would say it is unnatural. And they might be right, in that," the priest said, and Kurt heard the whisper of cloth that meant he was perhaps shrugging.

"But did you choose this?" Father Gregory asked him, rather pointedly.

"N.. nein, Father. It just.. it just happened," Kurt confessed. "I didn't wake up one morning and decide to fall in love. It just.." His voice trailed off, and he felt himself blushing again.

"I understand, my son. Believe me. When I met my wife, all those years ago, before I joined the priesthood," Father Gregory said, his voice growing softer, "Well, it was as if the Almighty had just brained me over the head with a two by four and said, 'Hey, you see that woman over there? She's who I had in mind. Go get 'er.'"

Kurt stifled a giggle, only half successfully, and confessed, "I.. I never knew you were married, Father G."

"A long time ago, Kurt. And.. might still be, if God hadn't had other plans," He explained, his voice sad.

Kurt felt his heart sink, and he nodded, "I understand, father. I am sorry."

"We don't decide who we love, Kurt. God does that for us. I don't regret it one bit. And.. neither should you," Father Gregory said.

Kurt nodded, and the sting returned to his eyes. Father Gregory was a good man. He could not ask him to bend or break the rules of the church, and he wouldn't. "Father Gregory, it wouldn't be fair of me to ask you to make an exception, and I won't. But.. I wanted to confess to you, and to explain myself. Even if it.. well.. it looks like I may have to do the right thing, and depart."

"Kurt, even if you leave the congregation, which I guess you must do, it doesn't mean that you aren't still a friend, and one whom I'm proud to know. You're a good boy. It's been an honor having you among us. And just because you may not attend mass anymore, doesn't mean you aren't welcome to visit whenever you wish, and keep us in your prayers, much as we will you in ours."

Kurt nodded. Even as his heart felt like breaking, he felt warm as well. Things were, he had to admit, going about as well as they could be going.

"I understand, father. Thank you, thank you so much for understanding us. And our love." Kurt whispered, feeling the tears fall freely.

"For your penance, Kurt," Father Gregory began, his voice kind but firm. Kurt straightened up, wondering what it might be.

"You are to love one another, deeply and sincerely, every day," Father Gregory continued, a smile in his voice.

Kurt couldn't help it. He sobbed, softly.

"You are to walk hand in hand without fear, and speak truth from your hearts. If you ever have a disagreement," Father Gregory added. "Forgive easily, and keep no count of wrongs."

'Oh Gott, I'm going to be a wreck when I leave the booth,' Kurt thought, nodding as he whispered, "We.. we will, father.."

"And finally, Kurt," Father Gregory said, "Know that above all else, God loves you, and blesses your union more than any priest, bishop, cardinal, or even the Pope himself ever could."

Kurt sobbed softly for a couple of minutes, and Father Gregory waited patiently, saying not a word. When Kurt finally stopped, and wiped his eyes, he whispered, "Sorry, father.. please continue."

Father Gregory was smiling again, Kurt could hear it in his voice, and he said, "Kurt, I invite you to make a Contrition, if you wish."

Kurt smiled as well, and nodded. In a way, it would bring closure to his relationship with the Catholic faith, and they would not part on bad terms, but as amiably as possible. Clearing his throat, Kurt began, his voice soft, and still trembling slightly, "Mein Gott.. ahem.. My God, I am sorry for my sins, with all my heart. I firmly intend, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered and died for our sins. In His name, my God, please have mercy."

Father Gregory answered, his voice firm, but kind, "God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His son, has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace. I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Kurt bowed his head, and answered, "Amen."

Father Gregory responded, "God has forgiven you of your sins, my son. Go in peace."

Kurt found himself smiling as he wiped the tears from his eyes. "Thanks be to God."

Upon opening the door, he looked around and spotted Kiro kneeling at the altar. The church was completely empty, now, except for him, Kiro, and Father Gregory.

Father Gregory exited his side of the booth, still wearing the simple black cassock he had  dressed in for mass, and Kurt was surprised to find him wiping a tear as well. Kurt couldn't help himself then, he went over and hugged the bear-like priest tightly.

"You're going to be alright, Kurt," Father Gregory said with a smile, ruffling Kurt's hair as he returned the hug. "God loves you, and so do I. Even if the church has some.. catching up to do," he said with a helpless shrug.

Stepping away from Father Gregory, Kurt turned to find Kiro heading towards them, his violet eyes bright. Kurt met him with a tight hug, and turned to face Father Gregory once again, Kiro's hand in his.

The priest smiled. "Yes, Kurt. Kiro. I think you two will be just fine. Go with God's love, and mine. But don't be afraid to visit now and then."

"We won't, father," Kurt promised with a smile, and with a final nod from the priest, the boys left the church, Kurt feeling a renewed peace in his heart and his spirit.

-------

"Well, it sucks that ya had to leave, but mega props to Papa G for treating you so well!" Rogue said from her place on Kiro's bed, right before she hid a yawn politely behind a gloved hand. She was still in her nightclothes, having just woken up while the boys were driving back to the Institute.

Kurt's stomach had twisted itself into such a knot that the thought of breakfast, at least right then, just made him nauseous. He had offered to stop by and let Kiro grab something, but Kiro had just smiled and shaken his head before patting the console of Scott's car and pointing ahead.

"Ja, we'll get breakfast back at the Institute, then?" Kurt had asked, and Kiro grinned, flashing a thumbs up. Kurt had grinned as well, pleased that he was continuing to get better at understanding Kiro's subtle gestures.

Kurt nodded at Rogue's words, as he shrugged out of his suit jacket and hung it up neatly in his closet. "Ja. It wouldn't be fair to ask him to approve of our relationship. He still has rules to follow, as a priest, but.. I'm just so happy, Rogue. He gave us every blessing he could, and meant it." Kurt said with a smile.

"No kiddin'," Rogue grinned. "Ah knew Papa G was a good guy from how ya talked about him, but this just earned 'im a few more brownie points in my book!"

Kiro turned to look at Rogue quizzically, his shirt half unbuttoned.

Both boys were changing out of their Sunday clothes, perhaps for the last time in a while at least, to go into their usual casual attire.

"Oh, umm, it's ah.. it's a Girl Scout reference, Kiki," Rogue tried to explain.

Kiro just looked even more confused.

Rogue sighed, and grinned, "Ah'll explain later. But let's just say that Papa G became even more awesome today."

Kurt giggled, and so did Rogue, and Kiro nodded with a smile.

After they had finished changing, Kurt and Kiro went downstairs to the kitchen, Rogue following close behind them.

Kurt had switched off his image inducer and was now wearing a tank top and a pair of comfortable, faded cargo pants, while Kiro was dressed in a dark blue t-shirt untucked over a pair of khaki trousers. His hair was bound back in a high ponytail, almost a topknot, with two tresses hanging down in front of his ears. It accented his exotic beauty perfectly, and Kurt had felt his breath catch in his throat when Kiro had wandered out of the bathroom with it. Even Rogue had gaped for a moment before shaking her head, "Damn it, bro.. Ah really am jealous now."

At church that morning, Kiro had worn for the first time one of the suits that the girls had picked out for him. A conservative black business suit with a violet tie that matched his eyes and a cream colored shirt. His hair had hung loose and free down his back. Over the past few weeks, many of the congregation had made frequent glances at the exotic looking boy, many greeting him with an earnest "Good morning, miss! Welcome to our church." On this, at least, their final sunday mass, the mystery of his gender had finally been solved.

Considering the early hour, Kurt wasn't expecting to see anyone in the halls, and they didn't. The institute was still mostly dark and quiet. No one was in the rec room, and nobody was in the kitchen. Kurt surprised himself with a yawn as he glanced around, and mused, "I don't have any idea what to do for breakfast."

"Can't help ya there, bro. Though Ah'm thinking some eggs, biscuits and sausage gravy would go down great right about now." Rogue remarked as her stomach growled.

Kiro smiled and stepped over to the counter, fetching a skillet from the hook overhead and  setting it on the stovetop as he turned on one of the burners.

"Ahem, other one, Kiki," Rogue corrected him, jerking her thumb to the right.

Kiro blushed and switched the wrong one off, before turning the correct knob. He then set about fetching eggs, cheese and sausage from the refrigerator, as well as flour from the cabinet. A package of raw biscuits was put in the oven, and he then set a pot of water to boil on the earlier burner he had accidentally switched on, switching it on once again.

Kurt and Rogue watched from the table while Kiro busied himself at the stove for the next fifteen minutes. Soon, he had a saucepan full of scrambled eggs, a basket full of fresh biscuits covered with a towel to keep them warm, a pot of sausage gravy ("Ororo must have given him the recipe!" Rogue whispered), and a plate of sausage patties resting on a couple of paper towels. All of this he set out on the table in front of Rogue and Kurt, before he set down a pitcher of orange juice and three cups.

Kurt fetched their plates, and Rogue grabbed silverware from the drawer, and in another minute, they were all seated at the table once again. Kiro and Kurt side by side, their legs touching under the table, and Rogue across from them.

"Pretty like an angel, kind like a teddybear, and hot damn he can COOK. Damn, bro, just .. damn. You are so lucky." Rogue drawled with a grin, and Kurt and Kiro both blushed at her compliment and playful jealousy.

"Huh? Lucky?" Scott's voice sounded from the nearby hallway, making all of them jump.

Of course Scott would be up this early.

'Shit!' Rogue thought, her eyes widening as she heard Scott's voice. In front of her, Kurt and Kiro had both frozen, Kiro's fork near his lips with a helping of scrambled eggs.

"Um, guten morgen, kapitan," Kurt began, "Nothing to report!" He added with an uneasy grin as he turned to the side to look at where Scott stood in the hallway, an obvious attempt to deflect.

Scott, however, wasn't fooled. He was dressed in blue jeans, brown hiking boots, and a long sleeved heather-grey button-down henley shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. The typical picture of a preppy student. Perhaps he and Jean were planning on going out later. None of them had heard Scott come down the hall. How long had he been standing there?

"Guys, it's kind of.. obvious that something is going on." Scott began, folding his arms across his chest. His expression was carefully neutral, though his gaze was leveled on where Kurt and Kiro were sitting. If they had been sitting any closer, they might as well have been sharing the same seat.

"What's it to ya, Cyke?" Rogue asked, her eyes flashing with a challenge.

"Hey, whoa, chill, I'm not in Fearless Leader mode," Scott answered, his hands out in a placating gesture.

"Still!" Rogue retorted, "What's the problem?"

"- Sis, please," Kurt interrupted, his voice pleading as he looked at Rogue across the table. Rogue quieted and leaned back in her chair.

"Um, Scott, would you mind sitting down?" Kurt requested, gesturing hopefully to the chair across from him and Kiro, next to Rogue.

Scott nodded and said, "Alright." He then stepped around Rogue to settle into the chair beside her, leaning forward to peer down at the bountiful breakfast on the table. "Kiro made all this, you said? Man, Kitty wasn't kidding at all. He can cook, can't he?"

"Ja," Kurt replied, a gentle smile on his face. "He is wunderbar." He said, as he deliberately reached over to take Kiro's hand in his. Right on the table top, where Scott could see. "Isn't he?" Kurt asked, his golden eyes leveled on Scott.

Kiro blushed, Rogue grinned, and Scott gaped.

None of them said anything for several seconds.

Finally, Scott's mouth closed. Then opened. And closed again. Eventually, he leaned back in his chair and admitted, "Well, I can't say I was ever expecting to see that from you, Kurt. I guess now it all makes sense, the way you've been acting these past few weeks." He was smiling.

Kurt blinked when he saw the smile on Scott's face. No disgust. No disapproval. Just, a smile.

"You mean..?" Kurt asked, feeling a tightness in his chest.

"Kurt, come on. You're my best friend. You've known me since the day you first came to the Institute. You really think something like this," he asked while he gestured to their hands on the table, "Would ever make me think less of you?" There was a touch of hurt to Scott's voice.

"Nein, Scott, I just.. I didn't know. I was afraid," Kurt confessed, averting his gaze.

"Kurt, you're the closest thing I've got to a brother at the Institute. There's no way you loving someone, least of all someone as wonderful as Kiro, could ever make me feel anything but proud, and happy for you. Both of you," Scott said, his voice firm and kind.

Kurt felt his throat clench and his eyes burn. Kiro squeezed his hand tightly, and blushed at Scott's words as well.

"Now, wreck my CAR on the other hand, and all bets are off," Scott added with a smirk.

Kurt couldn't help it, he burst into laughter, even as a tear fell from his eyes. Rogue joined him, and even Kiro giggled silently.

Kurt surged around the table in an instant and had Scott in his arms, hugging him tight enough to pop his back. Scott, laughing as well, returned Kurt's hug once he had risen from his chair, patting his back companionably.

When they released, Scott smiled down at him, hands on his shoulders. "I mean it, Kurt. You're not just a teammate, you're my best friend. I'm.. I'm sorry," He apologized suddenly, causing Kurt to blink up at him in confusion. Even Rogue seemed puzzled, and Kiro tilted his head.

"Huh? Why're ya apologizin'?" Rogue asked.

"Well, you were keeping this a secret, Kurt. I guess I'm sorry for making you think I might disapprove, or something. I'm sorry that you didn't feel comfortable telling me," Scott added, sadness and contrition in his voice.

"Nein, Scott, please don't apologize. I've been, well, scared of everything. Mutti und vati still don't know," He admitted, shaking his head. "But, I can't keep hiding it. I don't want to. It's not fair. Not fair to you and the others, and definitely not fair to mein engel."

At Scott's puzzled look, Kurt smiled and stepped back around the table to hug Kiro from behind, placing a kiss on the other boy's cheek that made him blush and hug Kurt's arms in return. "Mein engel. My angel. Kiro."

"'My angel,'" Scott repeated. He then grinned and shook his head, "Kurt, that has got to be the single most disgustingly cute, sickeningly sweet, sappiest thing I have ever, ever seen you do. And I love it."

The table once again bubbled with laughter, and Kurt had soon sat back down beside Kiro. Scott, peering down at the food once again, asked, "Well, since I'm here, do you mind if I join in? That smells amazing."

"Go for it, mein kapitan!" Kurt said brightly, and then laughed again as Scott's stomach growled in approval.

The meal that followed was, well, wonderful. Kurt and Kiro again sat side by side, leaning against one another while they ate, and the conversation at the table recounted the movie last night, and then turned to who would win in a fight, Captain Bart Roberts or Oda Nobunaga ("He's a samurai, Scott, not a ninja, ya goof!" Rogue had teased. "Same difference!" Scott claimed), and finally, to Kurt and Kiro.

Scott had assured them that he would keep their secret as long as they wanted, but Kurt smiled when he said, "It won't have to be for long. I.. I want to tell everyone. At least here at the Institute. I just, um, don't know when a good time would be," he admitted, shrugging.

"Well, here's an idea: Why not the family dinner tonight?" Scott suggested, "The professor has been thinking about moving it to Sunday evening instead of Monday, after all."

"And that's definitely some awesome news to share on the occasion," Rogue agreed, leaning forward with an encouraging wink.

"Ja.. Ja, that actually sounds sie guht," Kurt admitted, meeting Kiro's eyes and receiving a nod in return. "Alright, we'll do it then!"

Scott nodded, an encouraging smile on his face. "I'll let the professor know that you've got an important announcement to make, then." After rising from the table, he gathered his now-empty plate and set it in the sink. "Jean and I are supposed to go to the park today, but I'll stop by the professor's office before we go," he assured Kurt, laying a hand on the blue elf's shoulder as he paused. "I'm really happy for you two, Kurt. I mean it," he smiled.

"Great, now you'll make me cry again," Kurt muttered bitterly, but he was smiling as well. "Thank you, mein kapitan. Heart levels are now operating at maximum!"

Scott scoffed and shook his head, ruffling Kurt's hair before he continued out of the kitchen, leaving Kurt, Kiro, and Rogue to enjoy the remainder of their breakfast, smiles all around.

------

Later that morning, Kurt and Kiro were down in the medbay with Dr. McCoy. Hank had invited Kurt to join Kiro for today's lessons, and Kurt had happily agreed. Hank was sitting in his usual chair behind the main desk, while Kurt and Kiro were seated side by side on one of the examination tables. On the opposite wall hung a projection screen, with a computer display of the human skeletal system on it, currently zoomed in on the skull with a diagram of all the individual bones labeled.

They were currently taking a break, however, to recount Kiro's other lessons so far, and Hank had just remarked on how impressed he was at Kiro's ability to soak up so much information so fast. Hank had initially got a taste of just how impressive Kiro's intellect was during their very first "anatomy" lesson, which had occurred after Kurt's now infamous (at least to him and Hank) 'walk in' incident, where he had first caught sight of Kiro completely naked, fully erect, and looking both scared and confused at himself.

After a flustered Kurt had excused himself, Hank had apparently taken the opportunity to give Kiro what amounted to a complete sex ed course. Essentially, 'Everything you ever wanted to know about sex, but were unable or unwilling to ask about,' Hank McCoy style. And given Kiro's rather unique circumstances, Hank had even decided to teach -

"Vas?!!" Kurt exclaimed, his face hot with a blush as he nearly fell off the exam table. Beside him, Kiro averted his gaze with a smile.

"Well, why not?" Hank shrugged, giving a toothy smile. "He's a young man, Kurt, just like you, and it's important for him to know these things, after all."

"Well, um, ja, of course," Kurt admitted, certain that his face and ears had turned purple from how hard he was blushing, "But, even teaching him sex techniques..?" He asked, trying to picture how that must have gone in his head.

Hank chuckled, "Well, Kurt, it's not like he would have been taught any of that from the nuns. And he hasn't even known about the internet's existence until he came here. How else would he learn at all? Let alone learn things properly and responsibly?"

Hank had indeed taught him, it turns out. Academically, of course, with lectures, illustrations, and even, it turns out, video clips ("Oh mein GOTT, nein.."). As much as Kurt knew that Hank had a point, and had to admit that Hank was probably the best, most mature and understanding teacher at the Institute to teach such a thing, it was still embarassing to think about.

After all, Hank's regular lectures to the other students, including Kurt himself, had been somewhat cursory affairs. Proper use of condoms, knowledge of how birth control worked, STDs, basic anatomy and physiology, and mostly a focus on being responsible and mature when it came to dating and sex. Typical stuff. Not a "how to" class. But then, Kurt had to admit that Hank was right. Kiro didn't have adoptive parents, at least not until the Professor had assumed legal guardianship over him when he came to the Institte as a refugee, and it's not like the internet was a responsible teacher.

"Like I said, Kurt, it's important to have knowledge of these things, especially as a young man," Hank reiterated, his tone matter-of-fact.

Kurt nodded, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Besides, you two have obviously been putting that knowledge to good use," Hank observed.

This time, Kurt did fall off the exam table. Kiro's hand clapped over his mouth, blushing hard. Kurt scrambled to his feet with a panicked yelp, his tail lashing.

Kurt and Kiro's eyes met. Violet eyes gazing into golden yellow. The same question was on their faces.

How? How did Hank know??

Together, they turned to look at Hank. The Beast still sat in his chair, hands clasped in front of him on the desk.

Kurt finally asked, "How.. how did you know?"

Hank smiled, and shrugged. "I didn't. You just told me."

Kurt's mouth fell open. He wasn't sure whether to compliment Hank on his 'detective' skills, or faint, right then and there.

Kurt finally shook his head, and meekly sat back down next to Kiro. This time, his arm slipped around Kiro's hips, and Kiro's arm did the same.

Hank smiled, and stood from his chair. His voice was kind, "Listen, boys. Kiro, you especially. Part of being a doctor-" He nodded, and Kurt smiled, realizing that the lesson had continued, just in a different direction. "- is being able to read people, to observe them, and pick up on the little clues and signs that can help you figure them out. People are shy, by nature, and aren't often willing to talk about problems they might be having, or personal matters that may affect their health or well-being, negatively or -" He gestured to Kurt and Kiro's embrace, "Positively. Or some combination of the two."

"I had surmised what was going on between you two," Hank admitted with a smile, "using little clues like that. The way you two looked at one another at dinner, when you thought nobody else was watching. The way Kiro would touch you, and you'd smile, while you walked down the hall. The fact that you two were spending more and more time together," Hank listed them off, smiling as Kurt and Kiro nodded.

"You just needed confirmation?" Kurt suggested, and Hank nodded with a thumbs up, "Exactly, Kurt. And you just gave it to me," he answered with a wink.

Kurt sighed, and found he was smiling as he looked up at Hank. "Well played, Herr Doktor," he complimented.

Hank gave a mock bow, and a gentle smile, "Well, it wasn't done just to embarass you. I have to admit, Kurt, you had me worried for a while. I know this must have been a hard thing to realize, what with your faith and all," he said, and Kurt nodded sadly.

"Well, that's between me and God," Kurt stated with a smile, "And, well, I think we are on good terms, if he sent such a wonderful angel to me," he explained, slipping his hand into Kiro's and squeezing. Kiro blushed and smiled, resting his head on Kurt's shoulder.

Hank just smiled, "Well if that's not the cutest thing I've seen in years, I don't know what is. I feel like I need an insulin injection."

Kurt giggled, and Kiro playfully reached over to gently poke Hank's arm, and Hank shivered with the effect of Kiro's touch, his fur bristling all over. "Heavens above, Kiro, I doubt I'll ever get used to that!" He confessed with a laugh.

Hank, of course, was still the "doc" of the institute, though, and he wasn't about to let things go just at that. He was respectful, but still asked them about their "activities" and whether or not they were being discrete, and careful. Which, for them, mostly meant being hygienic and being considerate of each other, such as when they were given a rather embarassing reminder, to "be sure to clean up first if you feel the need to engage in oral intercourse after anal intercourse" ("Oh mein gott, Dr. McCoy.. please!! We know!!").

Despite it all, Hank had left them smiling, and feeling more comfortable in their interactions with the doctor, particularly with his promise that he would always be there if they needed to talk, about anything. Whether individually, or indeed together. When Kurt informed him that they would be making their little announcement at family dinner that evening, Hank looked as pleased as punch, and said he would eagerly be there to congratulate them on both coming out to their fellow students, and announcing their relationship at the same time.

Kiro, Kurt was pleased to see, was already turning out to be a very competent study in the medical lab. With all the pride of a teacher showing off the talents of a protege, Hank asked Kiro to demonstrate a number of skills on Kurt. How to take vital signs like pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and the like, how to diagnose and treat various common institute ailments like cuts, burns, scrapes, punctures, headaches, fevers and so on, and how to operate some of the equipment in the medical bay, like IV machines and vital monitors.

"Of course, with his powers, a lot of it I guess is moot, anyway," Hank admitted to Kurt with a grin. "When Jamie brought himself in here with a busted knee last week, bleeding and bruised bluer than our fur, all Kiro had to do was put his hand on it for less than ten seconds and Jamie was as good as new. Even Logan was impressed. Basically a week's worth of healing in ten seconds, and maybe even less than that. We still aren't sure just how powerful you are, Kiro," Hank said with a smile.

"But I figure it's good for him to know these things. Plus, as you may have noticed, his powers only seem to affect the physical body, organs, and the like. They aren't a panacea, unfortunately, not for mental health. Not even for memory loss, it seems, at least not for Logan," Hank continued with a shrug. But he still was in quite chipper spirits.

"I think you are already a fine addition here, Kiro, and, well, I would be honored if you decided to stay on at the medbay," Hank said with a grin.

Kiro smiled up at the doctor, and nodded several times. The two shook hands, and Hank once again chuckled at the feeling of Kiro's touch.

"I wonder if this means he will also join the Team," Kurt pondered, while they went around the medbay together to tidy away the equipment from their lesson and demonstrations.

"Well, it's certainly possible. But if you'll pardon the expression, Kiro strikes me as more of a lover than a fighter," Hank intoned, giving Kurt a playful nudge in the ribs.

Kurt giggled, "Well, he definitely has got the 'lover' part down."

Behind him, Kiro blushed and almost dropped the tray of tools he had been carrying.

"I've been talking it over with the Professor, and I actually think it may not matter too much. After all, the Professor isn't exactly an offensive lineman, but that doesn't stop him from leading and assisting the team," Hank pointed out, helping Kurt tidy away a vital station.

"I'm sure you could have a valued place as support, Kiro. A field medic, perhaps? Or what's that term that the Navy uses? A corpsman?" Hank continued, taking the tray from Kiro and setting it on the counter.

Kiro seemed a bit nervous, though, and he touched Kurt's arm beside him.

"Hm? What is it, mein engel?" Kurt asked, looking at Kiro and reaching up to touch his lover's face.

"Something wrong?" Hank asked, stepping over.

Kiro shook his head at their questions, but he then pointed at Kurt, and then at Hank, before pointing to two of the medical gurneys. He then shook his head, his expression one of fear.

"I.. I think I understand," Kurt said, looking deep into Kiro's eyes. Kiro had not had too many nightmares over the past few days, but he knew that Kiro sometimes had them. And when some fireworks had gone off in Bayville one night, for some celebration or another, Kiro had bolted up from his bed in an outright panic.

"You're worried about us. About the X-men. You.. You don't want us to get hurt. Or.. killed," Kurt began, and Kiro nodded, his expression one of anxiousness. "And you're afraid of fighting, and combat. Conflict. It's completely against your nature," Kurt explained, and when Kiro nodded, he continued, "That was why you were so afraid when Duncan threatened us on Friday."

Hank's eyes narrowed, but when Kurt reassured him with a shake of the head and a thumbs up, Hank understood that it had been taken care of.

"It's just.. not in your nature to hurt anyone, is it, mein engel?" Kurt asked, and he was smiling. "And you never want to." he nodded.

Kiro was crying now, and he seized Kurt in a hug, nodding against his shoulder.

"Mm, well, I think that answers that," Hank confirmed.

"Don't worry, Kiro. You'll be our guardian angel," The Beast assured Kiro with a smile, "And you'll help the team in your own way, one patient at a time."

------

"Listen, Half-Pint, you already know my opinion: Vampires suck," Logan growled as he continued to rake the leaves, Kitty working with another rake beside him while Rogue and Kiro moved along behind them to start gathering the piles into black trash bags. Out in the lawn nearby, a team of five Jamies were running along with snow shovels to help gather leaves that had blown further into the Institute's grass.

It was the middle of the afternoon, but the air was crisp and cool, even with the sun overhead. Actually rather pleasant, which made the work easier, though Kiro's skin still shone with sunblock as he knelt beside Rogue to help grab handfuls of leaves and stuff them into trash bags.

They were out near the treeline, gathering the leaves that had begun to fall in earnest from the woods near the Institute, and had begun to blow into the large lawn. Jamie had whined that it would be easier to just have Storm make a tornado and gather the leaves that way, but Logan had refused. "Work builds character, squirt, and you kids need all the character you can get," Logan had said. But true to his philosophy, he was right out there with them, not just supervising but working side by side with the kids. It was one of his many traits that had earned their respect, even if they sometimes complained.

Nearby, Hank and Sam were taking turns shaking and cannon-balling the trunks of the trees on the treeline, helping to dislodge the few leaves that remained so that they could get them all up in one afternoon's work. Up above them, Kurt and Ororo were plucking or shaking the stubborn ones that remained (in Kurt's case) or blowing them off with precision gusts of wind (in Storm's case).

"Well of course they do, they're vampires!" Kitty retorted, even as she rolled her eyes at Logan's pun-filled insult. "But still, don't you think they're at least a little cool? All, like, gothic and immortal and stuff?" She asked while they continued to make their way along the trees. As much as Logan seemed to be annoyed by the conversation, he hadn't stopped participating. It was pretty obvious why: Kitty, much like Rogue, was about as close to a surrogate daughter as any of the girls in the Institute were to Wolverine, and their occasional exchanges like this had only reinforced that bond.

Rogue paused in her work for a moment to look at the two with a smirk. "Half-Pint, are you tryin' to say I got somethin' in common with them?" Logan asked, glancing over at Kitty with a critical glare. "Oh, I dunnooo, like, the fact that you're always out at night, you brood a lot," Kitty answered, counting the reasons off on her fingers with a mischievous grin, "You looove the color blaaaack- EEP!" she yelped as she received a face full of drive leaves.

"Oops. My rake slipped. In a throwing motion." Logan grunted. Behind him, Rogue guffawed and Kiro giggled silently. Logan favored them with a lopsided smirk before turning back to Kitty, who was grinning even as she phased to let the leaves drop out of her hair, "And you have emo outbursts," She concluded.

"Alright, that's it!" Logan roared, dropping his rake, and Kitty squealed in mock fear as he began to chase her around in the grass, followed by Rogue and Kiro. Above them in the trees, Kurt paused in his work to watch with a grin. Everyone looked so happy.

Logan had caught up to Kitty and was tickling her, and she giggled so hard that her only way to escape was to phase through him, only to collapse on the grass. Rogue and Kiro mockingly held Logan back as he apparently issued a threat, though from his distance Kurt could only make out something that sounded like, "email your fanfics to the whole institute," and Kitty had shrieked in fear, "Oh my god. You wouldn't!!"

Beside them, Kiro and Rogue were giggling so hard that they staggered into one another, and Rogue had hugged Kiro to keep from tripping. Her expression immediately slackened, and her eyes went wide.

Kurt smiled. It seemed Rogue had finally managed to get a full dose of Kiro's touch, unlike the brief, one-handed touch she had gotten in school the other day. Deciding to take a break, he *BAMF!*ed over to them, and watched with a grin from a few feet away as Kiro looked up at Rogue in curiousity. She was still hugging him, and hadn't let go.

Kurt blinked as he noticed Rogue was blushing, and she also had tears in her eyes.

Logan had noticed too, and he and Kitty walked over, concern on their faces.

"Hey, Stripes. Stripes, you alright?" Logan asked, his tone completely serious, their earlier laughter immediately forgotten in the face of a potential situation.

"It's so.." Rogue whispered, "It's.. amazin'.." she gasped.

Kitty looked confused, and Logan raised a brow.

Kurt, however, shook his head. He understood. For years, ever since her powers emerged, Rogue had been unable to touch anyone without gloves or clothing. She had practically forgotten what it was like to feel a hug like what Kiro could give, along with his powers that gave healing, exquisite pleasure like being with a lover, and the warmth of an affectionate snuggle, being wrapped in a blanket fresh from the dryer, or a hot soak in the tub.

Kiro's touch was all of those things and more. And Rogue was experiencing all of them now, in a full "dose," so to speak, for the first time. "It's your first time in years feeling anything like this, isn't it, sis?" Kurt asked, and Rogue nodded.

"Ah, Ah had no idea it was like this," Rogue whispered, and her grip on Kiro tightened. "It was.. nice enough at the school, but.. it's just so much stronger now. Ah," she sniffled, a tear falling from her cheek, "Ah don't want to let go."

"Stripes, let Ghost breathe a little, 'eh?" Logan suggested, and Rogue realized that she had been almost bear-hugging the poor boy, who was breathing shallowly.

"Oh, oh gawd, Ah'm so sorry, Kiro," she whispered, reluctantly letting him go.

Kiro looked up at her, and he smiled. He had tears in his eyes, too. Kurt had explained Rogue's powers, and the reason why she always had to wear gloves and fully-covering clothing. It had mostly been to caution Kiro against touching her bare skin, for example if she was brought into the medical bay. It had been advice he had wisely heeded in school, using his healing powers through a small stack of paper towels to treat her injury at school. But Kiro had perhaps realized just how.. isolating it was, to never experience even the simple sensation of being touched, skin on skin, without putting someone in a potentially life-threatening coma.

Kiro gently drew her into another hug, and Rogue felt herself crying again. But she didn't even care, anymore. "Damn you for bein' such a sweet lil' teddybear," she mumbled affectionately, and Kurt grinned.

Kitty, meanwhile, watched with her hands on her hips, grinning as well, "Toldja he feels amazing, Rogue!"

Logan shook his head with a smirk, "Alright, kids, y'all can hug it out later. We still got work to finish up." He gave Rogue a gentle thump on the shoulder, and she smiled up at him in return before wiping her eyes and jogging back over to the treeline with Kitty close behind her.

Kiro gave Logan a touch on the arm and a kind smile, and Logan ruffled the boys hair even as his arms broke out in goosebumps from the boy's powers, "Nice try, Ghost. You and Elf doin' alright?" Logan asked in a low tone, as Kurt walked over to join them.

"Ja, Logan, we are.. we're doing wunderbar," Kurt said with a nod, resting a hand on Kiro's shoulder. "We're going to, um, come out, tonight at dinner," he confessed, and looked up at Logan's face.

Logan's eyes had a momentary flash of memory, and then, to Kurt's surprise, they were.. proud. He smiled. A genuine smile. One hand rested on Kurt's shoulder, and the other on Kiro's. "Good. I'm proud of you, Elf. Ghost. Both of you. I'll be there."

Kiro and Kurt both grinned, and furtively squeezed one another's hand while they stood under Logan's gaze for a few seconds.

Logan then nodded, and his eyes glimmered playfully as he threatened, "Alright, another distraction and it's trash duty for a week. Back to work, you two!"

Kurt saluted, "Jawohl, Herr Logan!" and was gone in a puff of smoke, *BAMF!*ing back up to the trees with Ororo.

Kiro gave Logan's arm a lingering squeeze, and a smile, which Logan returned, before the two turned and trotted back to where Kitty and Rogue had resumed their work, soon joining them once again.



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