They're starting to complain at me. =)
DISCLAIMER: For the most part, these aren't my characters, they belong to Marvel. Only their dilemmas are mine.
21) Kurt - Blood Stains
At the end of the third month they were separated, Kurt was brought unexpectedly to a Mission briefing room. Kitty was there, but when he tried to greet her, the Mission leader interrupted him. "Pay attention to the briefing, Hounds. Both of you."
They both nodded, but Kurt knew it was hard for anyone to tell just where his eyes were looking, and he made use of that advantage. Kitty looked pale and strung out... and as twitchy as he felt himself. He didn't know how long either of them would be able to live like this.
The leader started the briefing. Blah, blah. This was of utmost importance to Shield, so what? They were to hit the compound of a man designated a traitor to Shield. He was a well-placed officer, and son of a ranking General. He'd married a woman who just recently was revealed to be a mutant, and had two young children by her. The objective were to arrest the disgraced officer, apprehend the mutant and her spawn, and seize any papers or effects that might link the man to the mutant resistance.
To one side, Kurt was given a rundown on the what kind of security the compound had, and on the other, Kitty and the combat specialists were briefed on the number of guards at the estate, and their armament. This mission was evidently very urgent, as the target might learn at any moment that he'd been discovered, and disappear along with his family; possibly to the north, where the renegade Fury was rumored to be.
As soon as their briefings were over, they were loaded onto separate planes, and launched. A technician placed the expected explosive collar on him. If he got too far away, boom. If he somehow got it off, hers went boom. Clear? He nodded. That was very clear.
* * *
The compound was in the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia, and when they landed that evening, the teams boarded a series of vans and trucks for the last leg of the journey. In the hours between midnight and dawn, Kurt crawled over the wall near the rear gate. He bamfed into the guardhouse and swiftly knocked the men unconscious. He neutralized the alarms and opened the gates for the vehicles.
He was on his way for his next job at the house, when he heard silenced gunshots from the guardhouse. He blended with the shadows, and teleported to get up close to the estate, near a wiring box. He picked the small padlock and clipped through the electrical lines, killing power for most of the house. He would be in his element, now.
He watched from high up on the exterior walls, as Kitty and the combat team skirted the compound's perimeter with night-vision goggles, taking out any patrols. When the outer area was clear, they went inside the house, looking for resistance or sign of their targets. He shadowed the group with his beloved in it, from the ceiling and upper walls.
She was holding back when she could; injuring when she had to, and letting the agents do most of the work. If he saw anyone threatening the team unseen, he would drop down like a hunting cat, and knock him or her out. The agents he didn't care about, but he didn't want Kitty to get hurt.
She must have heard him one the times he intervened, because her glowing lenses turned his way. He widened his eyes and smiled toothily at her, she nodded and turned to catch up with her team. In the core of the house, the team found people destroying documents. The leader whispered, "Split up, people, time is of the essence here."
Kitty headed off alone, and again he followed her from on high. His job in this phase of the operation was to support, but just who he was to support was unspecified. In other hallways they could here reinforced doors being battered down by hand held rams. She didn't have one, but then, she didn't need one either. When she found a barricaded door, she stopped and looked around for him. He dropped beside her, and she pointed at the door. He reached for his lock picks, and she stepped through the obstacle.
He could hear voices on the other side, high pitched. It was the sound of panic maybe, or of children. He focused on getting the lock open, knowing Kitty would have removed anything place to bar the door. He heard the lock click, and pushed the heavy door open to a tense tableau lit by scarlet emergency lights.
Two small children huddled behind a sleep-disheveled woman in nightclothes, who was holding Kitty back at gunpoint. The opening of the door drew the woman's gaze, and her aim wavered. Kitty took a step forward, her goggles hanging from their straps. The woman focused her attention again on her. Kurt leaped the wall outside up to the ceiling, and flipped into the chamber over the upper lintel. He began to silently creep across the room to behind the panicky female.
"What are you doing here?" the woman said. "You're a mutant, why do you want to hurt these children?"
"I'm a Hound," Kitty said. "I don't want to hurt them, but my orders are to take them into custody. I cannot disobey."
"You could just run away, disappear," the woman said. "I saw how you got into here. They can't hold you."
Kitty pointed at her neck. "Explosive collar. If I get too far away, then I lose my head. Literally." He was easing down the wall behind them now, and he saw her eyes flick towards him. "So, tell me, are these your children?"
"Mine? No," the woman said. "I'm their nurse and guard. And I won't let you take them from their parents."
"Lookit the funny man!" the smaller of the two kids said, pointing behind them.
Kurt froze on the wall, as the woman backed up where she could see both of them, dragging the bigger child, a boy, with her. The smaller one, a girl, stared up at him fearlessly, and didn't seem to notice the other two had moved. He stepped to the floor by her, and picked her up. Carrying her behind Kitty, he put her down in a chair. "Stay there, please," he said. "We don't want you to get hurt."
She smiled. "You talk funny. Emmy, Dunc'n, he talks funny!"
The woman snarled silently. "I know what they'll do to them... and to her. It's better than they die now, then to be subject to that." The gun turned towards the boy, and time and motion seemed to slow...
...Shitk. A dagger popped into Kitty's hand, and she raised it to throw...
...The girl behind them screamed in sudden terror...
...The boy's eyes turned as large as saucers as the snub-nosed pistol aimed at his head...
Kitty's arm snapped forward, and he ported, ducking down to fit into the space between the woman and the boy. If he had to interpose his body to take the bullet, so be it. The blade slammed home as he wrapped the boy in his embrace. He heard the gun go off, and a hot brand slid over his shoulder. The boy trembled in his arms, and started whimpering against him.
"Are you okay, Kurt?" Kitty's voice was hoarse with worry. He turned to look at her and nod. She was shivering, and her faced was turned a deathly pale around the Hound tattoo.
"My shoulder's creased, but nothing major."
"Good. Take them out of here. I have to... get my blade."
"Understood." He rose with the boy in his arms, and shifted him over to one hip. Walking over to the girl, he held out an arm, and she surged up to him. He carried them both into the dark corridor, and waited while they clung to him.
She walked out, her goggles back in place, and she adjusted her wrist sheaths. "Kurt... look here. I found it... in a pocket."
He stepped nearer, and saw she held in her hand a coin. An engraved 'M' was on one side, and a red and purple Greek helm on the other. "That's what I saw before, liebe. The very same thing."
"It's probably evidence... but, I don't care." She put it in a buckle of her leathers, and snapped it in two. A curl of smoke rose, and the sides turned a charcoal black. She dropped the pieces in the foliage of a potted plant, and turned to him. "Where are the others?"
He cocked his head, listening. "This way." He wrapped his tail around Kitty's hand to lead her along; her grip was clammy and tight. The four of them walked through the dark halls; the only sounds were the sniffles of the children and her soft footfalls.
They came into a large red-lit room, and a weeping woman called out. "Duncan, Rose!" They reached out to her, saying as one, "Mommy!" Kurt held them tightly despite their squirming until he reached the woman's side, then he crouched and set them gently down. They clung to her, crying, each babbling a different version about what happened to 'Emmy'.
"Shut those brats up!" the mission leader snarled. Their mother hushed them, and the three watched sadly as the battered form of the family's father was laid down near them. "Good, we got the traitor, the mutie, and the kids, so that's all of them. Any remaining resistance?"
"No sir, we're processing evidence now," said one of the other agents.
"All right. Hounds, you're done now. Sit over there and be quiet."
"Jawohl," he said, and nudged Kitty out of her daze to sit with him near the prisoners. He watched her, concerned. She needed a good cry, but she wasn't withdrawing, not fully anyway. She was understandably upset about what she'd had to do. He drew her next to him and leaned her head on his shoulder. Her hand found his and squeezed desperately.
Kurt looked up as he felt the woman's eyes on them. She looked at him, then at her, as if looking for something, but what he couldn't tell." She nodded slightly, and said to them quietly. "You two are little better than kids yourselves, aren't you? Despite what they've done to your faces, I can see it."
Bitterness quirked his mouth. "Ja, that is so, but we feel much older than we are."
"There's so much pain in both of you," she said. "What happened to Emma?" She nodded down to the sleepy children, "They either didn't see, or didn't understand."
"She held a gun on my partner," Kurt said. "When Rose saw me, and Emma knew she was outnumbered, she... turned the weapon on the boy."
"I stopped her. I had to," Kitty said flatly. Where only the woman could see she snapped a blade into her hand, and flipped it into a throwing grip.
"I see." She looked down to the sandy haired head of the boy snuggled against her. "Thank you, for that. At least I get to see them and hold them, before..."
Kitty made a strangled noise that sounded like it started out to be a sob. She busied herself with putting her knife away and locking it in place.
He curled his tail around her waist and pulled her closer. "Come here, liebe. Rest with me, before they make us part again." She leaned closer, and buried her face against his neck.
"She's so sad. Is she gonna cry?" Rose said.
"Maybe later," he told her. "When she's alone. She doesn't like to cry in front of others." He could feel the warmth of Kitty's breath on his neck fur. He kissed her hair, breathing in deep. It had been so long...
"Even in front of you?" the girl said.
The child was like a mastiff after a hare. "She cries in front of me, when we are alone together," he said finally. "But we haven't been alone together lately. We are prisoners, like you are. We have no say in what we do."
"Up and at 'em Hounds." One of the Shield lieutenants had come over to them. His lip curled as if confronted with something particularly disgusting. "If you can peel apart from each other, that is. We're heading out."
"Jawohl, mein Herr," Kurt said. He helped Kitty to rise, and then took a deliberate step away from her. She squared her shoulders and looked up, a mask of composure firmly in place. Back at the vehicles, they were placed in separate vans for the long trip back.
* * *
After touchdown on the Carrier, Kurt was told to wait on the flight deck. He leaned against a wall until he heard shouting from the other plane. "...damned freak is gonna scrub my deck until it shines! The nerve of her, throwing up on my plane. And the way reeked, even after the bitch tried to clean it..."
Uh oh. Kitty must have had a reaction. Kurt hunted for a janitor's closet and got out some cleaning supplies. He presented himself to the irate pilot, who was still chewing her out. She stood before him, near the transport, eyes downcast. He cleared his throat and the man rounded on him angrily, before turning pale and stepping back.
"Gah! What kinda..." He swallowed hard, and Kurt couldn't help but to smile. "Fine, you help the clumsy freak clean up my airplane. He stalked off; muttering to himself, "Worst part of the job, dealing with all the damned muties."
"And Auf Wiedersehen to you, too, mein Herr..." Kurt murmured. "Here liebchen, you take some of this, bitte." She grabbed the mop and the jug of cleanser, and trudged back to the plane where she'd just endured a several hours-long flight. All the hatches were opened, and it still smelled like vomit. "You really did a number on this plane. What have you been eating?"
"I haven't been. This was just bile, and water." She poured the cleaner full strength into the bucket and soaked the mop into it. She started grimly scrubbing at the soiled spot.
"Hey! You!" said a muffled voice.
Kitty barely twitched, but Kurt turned to the open hatch. A flight deck worker stood there, one hand covering his nose and mouth, the other holding some dark plastic sheeting. He walked over to the worker, whose eyes got larger the closer he got. "May I help you?"
"Um. The pilot says there's a load of bio trash aboard. Uh. Get it for me."
"Anything you say," Kurt said. The cleaner Kitty was liberally applying to the floor was helping to counter the odor of sickness, but even through it, he was able to find the trash bin with the paper towels she'd used to wipe things up. Month in Disposal inured him to most stenches, but he still made a face as he carried the bagged materials out to the man.
The worker held out the sheeting; it was a heavy-gauge trash bag, and Kurt dropped his inside. It was quickly sealed and the man made his get away.
Kurt took some fresh toweling, dipped them lightly in the solution, and started to wipe the surface of everywhere he could reach, which was nearly everywhere. When he finished, the only places he could still detect the stink of what happened, were on Kitty herself and the mop she'd used.
"Hang on, Katzchen. Let me dump out that bucket and rinse the mop. If you go over it one more time after that, you should be done."
She stopped, and wearily sat on a bench. "Okay."
He took the mop and bucket back to the closet and rinsed them out thoroughly. Then he hurried back to the plane. He wasn't sure he trusted her to be alone, and even beyond that, he would take any opportunity to be with her, even while doing this.
She put a bit more cleanser in the bucket, and gave the wet mop another good pass over the section of floor. He stepped over to her with a cleanser-dampened towel, and wiped off her chest, where she'd splattered bile on herself. He took an exploratory sniff, and smiled. "We're done, I don't smell anything anymore."
"Then... I guess we have to put this stuff away." She looked terribly tired, and groaned when she stumbled, heading for the hatch.
He wanted to weep at the state she was in, or to wrap her in his arms and never let her go. He could do neither, so he steadied her, and took some of the cleaning supplies from her for the trip back to the closet. Just outside the door, they were confronted by a group of agents. Their senior trainers, Major Rudolf, and... the General himself stood by, watching them.
Kitty nodded in bare acknowledgement of their presence, and went into the closet with Kurt to put the cleaning supplies away. Then she came out and dropped to her knees in front of them, her head sagging. He joined her on his knees, unable to keep his tail from lashing in anxiety. The Major looked down at them, his eyes glittering with an unreadable expression. "You're not done cleaning, Hounds, there are stains on your equipment. See to cleaning it." Kurt nodded, and he and Kitty went back in, but he kept his ears open.
"Major, the last time I saw these two, their morale was good, considering, and they each had another 20-40 pounds more weight on them. Now, they look like they're headed for illness or nervous breakdowns. Your treatment policies are not supposed to be counter-productive to their effectiveness." The General sounded distinctly displeased to Kurt.
He whispered, "Katzchen, wash your blades."
"Sir, they performed well today, exceeding expectations."
He ran water in the sink, and Kitty frowned in concentration, as she bent to the task. Over the sound of running water, he strained to listen to the voices outside.
"Exceeding yours, perhaps, but not mine. They do better when they're not eaten up with tension. The doctor believes she's showing signs of developing ulcers, and according to the combat medic, there was blood in what she spewed on the plane. I'm giving you a chance to fix this, Major. Don't disappoint me."
"Yes, sir. Brestin, Vaile, obviously you were given too much responsibility, too soon." Kurt smiled. He'd bet they resented the hell out of that; they were only doing what he'd given them a blank check to do... but blame rolled down hill. "You're dismissed." He heard the sound of salutes and receding footsteps. "They will be assigned new trainers immediately, sir." He took off his gauntlets and worked at cleaning dried blood and bits of skin from between the jointed plates.
"Correction," the General said. "Headquarters wants them treated as a single combat unit. Deal with them as partners, and not as separate Hounds. As for trainers, give 'em back Howards and Combs, and them only. Those two were tough but fair on them.
"Yes, sir, that shall be done immediately. Do you... wish them to resume their former living assignments?" Rudolf's tone was strained and bitter. Kurt held his breath for the answer.
"You mean those exceptional arrangements that I personally authorized and endorsed?" The General's voice was deceptively soft. "Yes, I think that will be best. Have them both take their work shift at Disposal, also. They don't need to be scrambling all over the ship to get to their workplaces."
The General made a thoughtful sound. "Give them the rest of the day and tomorrow off, and they are to report to the clinic in lieu of work on Monday. I want them back up to peak as soon as possible. Headquarters has plans for them, long term plans. So you will kindly pass any policies concerning them to my office. Am I understood?"
"Perfectly, sir." More footsteps receding, and the door opened. "Are you done, Hounds?"
"I need my oil, so they won't rust," Kitty said. The Major frowned at the lack of honorific.
Kurt turned off the water. "They've been cleaned in water. sir, but we could use the oil that was in the missions room."
"Very well, see to that, and your trunk will be delivered in a bit, Nightcrawler. When you're done, you're dismissed for the day."
"Yes, sir, Major." He led her to the missions briefing room, where their supplies were still laid out, and handed her the bottle of cleaning oil. He worked the lubricating oil into the joints of his metal gloves. When he'd restored the condition as best as he could, he laid them on the table. "Take the knives off, liebe. It's almost time to go home."
"Home..." she echoed. He judged her to be out on her feet, but she still laid the blades out in a precise order. Her suit looked strange with all the loops and pockets emptied out. She unstrapped the wrist sheaths, and turned to the changing room.
"Just change clothes, Katzchen, we can bathe when we get there."
She nodded and peeled off the cat suit. He frowned at how thin she was, although he knew his own condition was little better. He put his arm around her once they were back in their jumpsuits, and she seemed content to simply lean against him, as he led her home.
Two people waited on them at their door. Combs had his trunk, and Howards was pushing a hand trolley loaded up with food containers. And not just any kind of food; there were two jugs of whole milk, fresh strawberries and eggs, and boxes of frozen steaks. The General seemed to be very serious about getting them up to condition quickly.
Combs shook his head. "You two look like hell," he said, his voice gruff.
"Thank you for noticing, sir," Kurt said. "We feel like hell."
Howards held out a paper. "This is from the clinic. It's a high protein, medium carbohydrate diet plan for the both of you." He snorted. "It's even sorta kosher, or at least, it lists her as being 'allergic' to pork. Keep her on the milk, use the pepto for stomach pains, and if you notice any unusual bleeding, take her to the clinic right away."
"Yes, sir," Kurt said. "Now, if you'll excuse me..." He opened the door, and half led, half carried her inside and into a chair in the kitchenette. She put her head on the table, cushioned on her arms. Kurt hauled in the trunk, and unloaded the trolley around her and on every available bit of counter space. "Is there anything else, sirs?"
"No, carry on, and get some rest, you two," Combs said.
"I was planning on it." He closed the door quietly as they walked away. She was trying to put things away in the fridge, and he took over that chore, finishing quickly. He crouched down next to her. "Do you want to wash up tonight, or wait until tomorrow?"
She looked down at her hands and watched them tremble. "Tomorrow... I'm just so tired."
"Alright, liebe, tomorrow it is. Come on, now. It's time to rest."
In the bedroom, he smiled at the faint scent of Old Spice on his pillow. He switched it with hers, because it would be too strong for him to sleep on. He snuggled her next to him, feeling a lump in his throat at the rightness of her being there.
He thought she might break down and cry, but he was only half right. She didn't have the energy for hysterics, so she pressed her face against his warm side and cried softly, but steadily until she fell asleep. He held her close for a long time after that, until sleep claimed him too.
In This Thread:
Chapter 21/24: Kurt - Blood Stains
Chapter 22/25: Kitty - Revelations
Chapter 23/26: Kurt - Fall Of Darkness
Chapter 24/27: Kitty - Magneto's Raiders
Chapter 25/28: Kurt - Assault On Asteroid M
Chapter 2629: Kitty - A Taste Of *******
Chapter 2730: Kurt - ********
Chapter 28/31: Kitty - *********
Chapter 29/32: Kurt - For The ***, ***** *** ****
Chapter 30/33: Kitty - Legacies
Chapter 30 Ends the third act, and the story.
**UPDATE** Chapters have been replanned...
Don't hate me because I scare you...