TITLE: GRIEF AND THE LACK OF IT
AUTHOR: Katta ( head_overheels@...
FANDOM/SETTING: X-men 2.
FEEDBACK/ARCHIVING: Feedback will always be replied to, unless the mail gets
lost. Archive requests will be accepted. All but list sites should still ask
SUMMARY: When Kurt goes off to be alone and Artie wants someone to talk to,
both end up getting what they really need.
DISCLAIMER: Singer's, Marvel's and other people, not mine.
NOTE: Yes, Artie Maddicks was in the film. No, he doesn't look like comics
Artie. Deal with it. *g*
THANKS: To Bounce and Rhiannon, for the beta.
There wasn't anything on television that could ease Kurt's mind. The family
programs were too simplistic, the cop shows too violent, the sitcoms weren't
funny. He'd long since stopped putting any trust in the news, and as
entertainment it was sadly lacking. Finally he settled for a documentary on
deep sea fishing, fundamentally uninteresting but at the very least calming.
For the first time in ages, he had people all around him, and yet he sought
solitude. Their company made him feel lonely, and he couldn't even turn to
God, because some things he was ashamed to put in prayer.
Hearing the soft padding of bare feet, he turned around and found a
dark-haired boy in green pyjamas standing behind the couch, watching him.
Kurt recognised him as one of the children who had been held captive at
Alkali Lake. The one with the forked tongue.
He wondered briefly what it was like to have that kind of mutation, one that
could be hidden, but only with great care. Was it better than not having
that opportunity? Worse than passing completely? But he brushed those
thoughts away. God had given him this body, that was all he needed to know.
If it was taking him a long time to learn to love it, he was finally getting
"Hello," he said politely. Obviously, the TV room in a school wasn't the
best place to choose for some time alone. "Isn't it past your bedtime?"
The boy shrugged and moved to sit down, choosing the other end of the couch.
So he wasn't afraid, just normally cautious around strangers. Kurt wondered
what he wanted. It certainly wasn't to watch television. He couldn't imagine
that documentaries about fish were of interest to a boy of... eleven?
"My name is Kurt Wagner. What's yours?"
A sudden memory turned up in his mind or at least it seemed like a memory
of a school book with the name 'Artie Maddicks' printed on the inside of
the cover. He blinked. If that was a memory, it certainly wasn't one of his.
And it was a little too vivid to be real anyway.
"Artie Maddicks?" Kurt thought out loud.
The boy's expectant look turned into a rather sweet smile, and he nodded.
So, Artie Maddicks, then. And somehow he had planted that image into Kurt's
mind, which should have been worrisome considering that man Jason, but Kurt
wasn't about to let a little boy feel feared. He knew that feeling far too
"I'm pleased to meet you, Artie."
Artie's smile widened, although he still didn't say anything. In his mind,
Kurt added the silence to the mind image and the forked tongue and came to a
conclusion that he stowed away as interesting information, but not very
"Was it me you came here to see?" he asked. He had no idea why that would
be, but Artie nodded. Okay. "Why?"
The image entering his mind was so vibrant and beautiful that it forced him
to blink not that blinking helped. He saw Jean Grey, the woman who had
died, dressed in her X-Men uniform and with her red hair glittering in the
sun. She seemed taller than she should be, until he realised that of course
she would be, from the perspective of a preteen boy. And she was laughing.
"Why me?" he asked, uncomfortable.
He was stepping into the plane they called the Blackbird over at Alkali Lake
but he waved away that image. "Yes, I was there. But so were many people.
People who knew her."
After that the images started to swirl.
There was beautiful Ororo, sitting in the rain, her clothes drenched through
and wet streams running down her cheeks. It was impossible to say if she was
crying or if it was only the rain, but then, in her case it hardly mattered.
The professor was dragging a large wooden cross behind him. He had
difficulty handling both that and the motor controls of his wheelchair, and
his face was tense and sweaty.
Scott Summers had divided himself in two. One part was made of impeccable
marble and was currently teaching geography, his face no darker than the
chalk he was writing with. The other part was lying in a heap by his feet,
blasting the floor into dust.
Logan was going berserk in his room, cutting into everything with his claws,
strip by strip, into tiny little pieces, even the people who dared come
Far above the ground the girl with the white streaks in her hair was
floating in a bubble of her own, huddled on its bottom. The blond boy who
was her boyfriend stepped inside and sat down beside her. It gave her
comfort, but it froze the bubble into ice. No one else could get in but the
two of them.
More images swirled by, most of them difficult to interpret since Kurt
didn't know the people they referred to. The point was clear anyway, even if
Artie had exaggerated it. Everyone had their own grief. They held it
together a lot better than Artie's images implied, but Kurt understood if
they weren't much comfort.
He, on the other hand, was an outsider who had been present at the time of
Jean's death, but who wasn't as deeply stricken as the rest of them. But he
didn't think that was enough for him to be able to help. He might be an
adult, but he wasn't some sort of therapist, and he had no idea what to do
about all this.
"What do you want me to say?"
Artie shook his head and pointed at himself.
"You'll do the talking?" That was a relief, at least. Lending an ear or a
mind, in this case was a lot easier than trying to come up with some
profound wisdom. "All right, then."
Now the images were much slower in coming, giving him time to properly watch
every one of them.
He saw Jean giving Artie a physical examination, and he knew it wasn't
exactly a memory, because he could see Artie as well as Jean. The boy looked
a little off, like a mirror image, but obviously he would, since that was
the only way he had ever seen himself. Jean was looking at Artie's tongue,
and her expression was slightly baffled, but in a good way, like the boy had
just displayed an unexpected talent.
The very next moment, she made Artie stand on the floor with his head
hanging down as she checked the curve of his back. Kurt nearly laughed at
the sight. Nothing could keep the routine away for long, it seemed.
In the next image, it was winter, and the children were playing outside the
mansion. They were having a snowball war, although it was very unclear who
was on which side, since even behind the barricades people were throwing
snowballs at each other. Jean was coming down one of the paths, her steps
hurried as if she was late for something which, Kurt thought, was probably
the case. She was much too preoccupied to notice what was going on around
her, and so it was inevitable that she was caught in the crossfire. Accident
alone caused the ball that hit her to be Artie's.
Jean stopped for a second and caught Artie's eye, and as she resumed her
pace, a ball formed itself from the snow and flew into his face with perfect
aim. No ball touched her again. Somehow they slid aside before they came
within a foot of her. Very practical mutation, telekinesis. Kurt wasn't
sure, but he thought he saw a smile on Jean's lips. He certainly had one of
Jean in class was another thing altogether, too caught up in stamens and
pistils to notice that the kids were passing notes. Her drawing was
meticulous rather than pretty, but there was no mistaking her enthusiasm,
even if the children didn't always muster the same. She was more of a
scientist than a teacher, and it showed, but the children didn't seem
hostile, just bored, and the slightest bit amused at their own boredom.
The image was going a bit blurred, and Artie was starting to sniffle. Kurt
reached out an arm for him as if he had been a small child from his Romani
family rather than a strange boy close to puberty, and Artie reacted
accordingly, curling up in Kurt's arms and letting the tears start to flow.
Soon silent sobs were wracking his body, but he refused to stop the images,
sending one after another like something was forcing him. Kurt wondered how
desperately Artie had needed to talk to someone, and how many people he had
tried before going to the outsider.
Jean and Scott were getting ready to go out, presumably on a date since they
were both dressed up. It was funny, when Kurt had first seen Jean and Scott
he had assumed right away that they were a couple, but the thought of them
dating had never occurred to him. Their togetherness had been too relaxed,
too obvious, and yet now that he saw them like this it was the most natural
thing in the world. Scott in a striped suit should have looked like an extra
from The Godfather, but he was too striking for that, and Jean, in her moss
green dress, was simply beautiful. They were both laughing, and Jean gave
Scott a smack over the nose, playful like a kitten.
Judging from the image of a late-night poker game, Jean was a terrible card
player. Pennies were piling up in front of the others, but in front of her,
the table was empty. She was smiling as if it didn't matter, but above her a
tiny Jean was throwing a tantrum, kicking and screaming. Jean was a *very*
sore loser and equally eager to hide it.
The contrast was great with the next image, where Jean had circles under her
eyes and a worried expression, working hard by her microscope. She still had
time for a strained smile as Artie limped inside with a bleeding knee, and
she patched it up gently if somewhat hurriedly, without glancing more than
once at the microscope. She had her priorities in order. Scientist before
teacher, but doctor before scientist.
Kurt didn't know when he too started to cry, but his cheeks were wet with
tears by the time the last image turned into a meaningless jumble before
disappearing entirely. Artie's eyes were drifting closed, and Kurt sat very
still, letting the boy fall asleep. Grief could be very exhausting.
The fishing documentary had ended by now, and Kurt sat watching the
crackling black and white spots, his mind still focused on what he had just
seen. He had learned a lot about Jean, about Artie and about this place, and
it comforted something in him he hadn't known needed comfort. Being the only
one who didn't grieve had been difficult, and it wasn't a problem you could
ease by sharing. He could never have a place in their sorrow, but through
Artie he had at least been given a better understanding of what they had
He'd almost fallen asleep himself when he heard footsteps again, this time
the hard clatter of high-heeled shoes. He twisted in his seat, trying not to
disturb Artie's sleep. It turned out to be Ororo, and he gave her a warm
smile, running a quick hand under his eyes to make sure his tears had dried.
He certainly didn't want to blubber in front of her.
"Hello, Liebchen," he said, not sure if he hoped she understood that word or
"Hi," she replied, scowling lightly at the boy in his arms. "It is long past
"Well, he is asleep." Kurt let his hand run over the sleeping boy's cheek.
It came away wet. Even in his sleep, Artie was still crying. "He needed
someone to talk to. And I needed to listen."
Ororo leaned her elbows on the back of the couch. "I know things have been
"It doesn't matter," he hurried to say. The last thing he wanted right now
was a conversation spurred by guilt. Not after a real one, and not with her.
He smiled a bit to show he still wanted her company God, did he ever.
Ororo smiled back, her eyes weary and tired. He threw a glance outside, but
the night sky was clear. Not too bad, then.
"I hate to wake him up when he is this peaceful... Do you think you could
teleport him back to his room?"
"I wish I could." He didn't want to wake up the boy either, but taking him
him into a wall would be worse. "I don't know where it is, what it looks
"Oh, it is upstairs, first door to the right..." She trailed off. "That was
not what you were asking."
"Not quite." He smiled a little. Apparently he wasn't the only person having
some difficulty understanding other people's mutations. "But it's still
helpful. I'll take him that far."
He scooped up the boy in his arms, and a bamf later they were both in the
second floor hallway. Artie was heavier than he looked, and Kurt had to let
him slide to a half-standing position which was of course guaranteed to
wake him up.
A somewhat blurred question mark formed inside his head.
"I'm just getting you to bed, Schatz."
The reply was a most indignant looking Artie, half a head taller than Kurt.
Kurt laughed quietly and let go of the boy. "Yes, you are too big to be
carried. My apologies."
Artie stumbled towards the door, rubbing his eyes.
"Good night," Kurt said, getting ready to teleport back down again.
The boy lift a hand in reply, and then changed his mind, instead stepping up
to Kurt and giving him a hard, brief hug before shyly slinking into his
Kurt was already back in the TV room when the last image struck him: a very
large, blue band-aid.
"And thank *you*, Schatz," he whispered. He wasn't sure if Artie could read
minds, but a bit of politeness never hurt anyone.
Tonight, he thought he would be able to pray again.
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