Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

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Saint Kurt
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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by Saint Kurt » Sun Apr 18, 2004 7:23 am

I’ve been enjoying all the work posted on here for a while now and critiquing when I can, but I have a secret: I’ve been writing too. I’ve been really apprehensive about posting my stuff, but it’s not doing anyone any good on my hard drive either. I don’t write fan fic very often but I really like the character’s origins as well as his general outlook on things so I got kind of inspired.

I posted an introduction in the off topic section, but just in case it got buried, here’s the short version: I found this site while searching for photo references for my nightcrawler costume. I didn’t know much about the character other than what was in X2 and that I really liked his costume. Plus I have a circus background so it just seemed like good match. (It’s kind of a huge project though. I had to have casts made of my face, ears, hands, feet, and teeth. Sheesh.)

In the process of research I discovered that I really liked the character and the X-Men in general. I’ve read fan fic for years and so this is a new genre to read which is nice. I rarely write, but the opportunity to write about someone who was in a circus and fences as well was too much for me I guess. (I fenced varsity in high school and college.) So I’ve kind of been re-writing all of his backstory. Since I really only knew the movie I started with that version of him and went from there trying to work in as much canon stuff as I could. It’s in the form of short vignettes. I’ve got a bunch written now so I thought I should stop being such a chicken and start posting them.

I’m kind of new at this so any comments, critiques, or nitpicking will be gratefully appreciated. I hope you like the stories.

-e
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Prelude: Decisions

Post by Saint Kurt » Sun Apr 18, 2004 7:41 am

Well, now that I’ve posted that, I guess I have to deliver…

Though most of this story takes place in Europe in the past, I wrote this short prelude to set it in the X2 movie universe as well as set up for characters and situations that will be introduced as the story progresses.

Another thing: While writing I began to notice that every story had quote in it somewhere that sort of summed everything up. I pulled these out and put them in italics at the top of each one as a sort of teaser/introduction

Okay. That’s it.

Disclaimer: It should go without saying that I don’t own the X-Men and I am just doing this for fun.

"In the past week I tried to assassinate the president, got shot, got hit by lightening, was tossed around in a plane for two days, and according to your Professor Xavier, was ‘instrumental in the effort to save humanity’. Im a little worn out. Not really up to any big decisions."


Dear Wolfgang –

I must begin by apologizing for the lack of information in this letter. If I told you everything that has happened I would go on and on for pages and I think long stories to old friends are best told over a few beers. Im sure you agree. I am writing to you because I know that you will be able to pass on the news to Margali and Amanda and all the others. Please tell them that I am in America, that I am all right, and that I miss them.

I’m sure by now the news of the mutant attack on the President of the United States has traveled to Rome. And Im sure you have noticed that despite the poor artwork, the only suspect they can identify looks very much like me. I can imagine that upon seeing this you were both relieved and shocked. Without going into specifics I will tell you that it was me, but it wasnt me. Like I said, it is a story best told in person. Needless to say, Im pleased that I did not succeed in my attempt.

I think that I can say without fear of ever contradicting myself that this has been the strangest week in my entire life. It started with waking up in an abandoned church and ends in a beautiful mansion in New York where I am sitting now, writing to you. In between is the most amazing and horrible … "adventure" is the best word I can think of, but it is not quite right. The mansion where this story ends is owned by a mutant named Charles Xavier who teaches other mutants, mostly children, how to use their abilities and to be proud of them. It feels like a good place.

I now come to the most difficult, but most important part of this letter. I have been asked to stay. Professor Xavier, as he is called here, wishes to gather a team of people, all with "gifts" as he calls them to serve and protect humanity. It is a strange wish because mutants are persecuted here more than any other place I have been. But I understand him and have often felt the same way myself. Why is it that people clap when I am on stage and run when I approach on the street? It does not have to be that way and I think that this Professor Xavier has the right idea. It is only our actions that matter in the end. I know you hate it when I "get all religious on you", but it is not unlike what the Lord Jesus Christ tried to do so long ago; to show people that everyone had the capacity to be good inside?

I have not said yes or no yet. Like I said, its been a very very odd week and I feel like Im waiting for the room to stop spinning. But I am leaning towards staying, maybe not forever, but at least for a while. I trust these people and I like them (even though they dont appear to be very enthusiastic about the circus). I have always wondered what plan god had for me. I understand the value of entertainment, but I have so often wanted to do more. Perhaps this is my chance so I cannot look away so easily.

I trust you to explain all this to Margali as sometimes I think you know my heart better than I. Oh, and if you remember, please tell Lars I was hit by lightening in a church. I think hell find it funny. Ill explain later.

As always, you and your family are in my prayers.



Your friend and favorite son,
Kurt


---

Kurt put down the pen and flexed his cramped fingers. The pens here were all too small for his grip, but he had wanted to write Wolfgang as soon as possible. No one could tell him how long he had been gone. Who knew what his friends and family thought had happened to him? It seemed worth the discomfort to let his family know that he was safe.

There were no lights on, but the moonlight shining through the window was enough for him to see by. Kurt turned away from the small desk and looked over at his bed, the blankets still rumpled from his earlier attempts at sleep. The room was just too big. He had spent his life sleeping in trailers and tents, places where the ceilings were low and the walls close. He had never stayed in a room like this and certainly had never had such a huge bed. It made him feel exposed and vulnerable. At the same time, he hated to refuse the professors hospitality. So Kurt had politely thanked him and for the last three nights had tossed and turned in the bed before finally resorting to curling up on the floor under it.

The students were returning and by day the house was a lively mix of children and adults. It reminded Kurt a little of his extended circus family though much more organized. Kurt spent most of his time alone, keeping trips outside his own room to a minimum so not to scare anyone. Though he had to admit, no one really seemed afraid of him here. Hed been caught walking through the hall by a group on their way to a class in the professors office. He had expected the worst and readied himself for a quick exit, but to his surprise he had been greeted with a few hellos before they passed right by him. The only other place that had ever happened was amongst the other circus performers, but of course many of them had known him since he was an infant. They were more likely to fear his jokes than his appearance.

Hed had a few visits, Rogue and Bobby mostly. He imagined that most of the others were too upset by the loss of their colleague to worry about what he was up to. The pair had brought him milk and cookies once and another time he had helped Rogue, who was reading the English translation of Goethes Faust, with some of the pronunciation. But these visits hardly cut into the hours of free time. Kurt was used to schedules; life had to be lived between performances and rehearsals and there had hardly seemed enough time in each day. Now he had nothing but time. He glanced at the rosary beads sitting on his bedside table, but decided against it. God was probably tired of hearing his voice at this point.

Instead Kurt decided to take advantage of the late hour and explore. He was shirtless so he pulled on his shirt and vest. He didnt need his coat, but he usually didnt like wearing clothes where he couldnt hide his tail unless he was very comfortable with the place. He didnt quite feel ready and so he pulled it on as well. He swiped his rosary off the table and put it in his pocket.

The upper floors of the house were quiet and Kurt gently padded down the stairs to where the common spaces were. He could hear voices in one room, but he realized it was a television. Curious, he peeked through the door. He couldnt see anyone so he walked in. The only television Kurt had ever seen up close belonged to Wolfgang. No one else in the circus had one and Wolfgangs television had been much much smaller. It had terrible reception, but that didnt matter since they never watched anything but tapes on it.

"Going somewhere?" A voice asked out of nowhere.

Kurt jumped in surprise. A bespectacled boy was staring at him over the back of the couch. Kurt looked down at himself. He could see how one would think that. "Uh, no." he said. "Im just looking around. I thought everyone was sleeping."

"They are. Everyone, but me. And you." The boy stared at him, but said nothing more. Kurt looked around, not sure whether he was expected to comment or not. "Theres a kitchen through that door. And some other rooms over there." The boy pointed in various directions.

"Which room has the nicest view?"

The boy considered and finally gestured towards a half open door through which Kurt could see moonlight. "That one."

"Danke." Kurt made a motion like tipping an imaginary hat and went through the door.

It was a room with a set of large windows, each with a rather high window bench. Kurt climbed up and settled himself against the wall, his knees up near his chin. It was a good view. He could see the whole yard with its sports courts and a large expanse of lawn cut here and there by a few well-tended gardens. Off in the distance, just over the trees that lined the property, Kurt could see the ridges of the Catskill Mountains. Hed have to remember this room. It was a nice place to sit and think.

***

It was the damned dreams again. Logan sat up in bed and ran his hands through his hair. He thought maybe now, with Striker gone they too would go away. It seemed that it wasnt that easy. He heaved himself off the bed and out the door in a single motion.

Downstairs he made his usual small talk with Jones. Logan couldnt decide who had it worse sometimes.

"The new guys in there." Jones said, gesturing to a long room off the kitchen that Logan was sure had once been a dining room.

"New guy?"

"You know: Blue, with a tail, hardly talks. I guess he doesnt sleep either."

Logan scratched his chin, wondering if he wasnt the only one who in this house who dreamt about Alkali Lake. "Thanks." He said and spun on his heel toward the kitchen.

***

Logans bare feet hardly made a sound on the wood floor. Sitting in one of the recessed windows was the new mutant. He was looking out the window with his chin in his hands and his knees drawn up, his tail twitching back and forth like a cats. He turned as Logan walked up.

"Beer?" Logan held out a bottle and pulled off the cap. Kurt hesitated, seeming surprised by the gesture and it occurred to Logan that perhaps he wasn’t the beer type. But after a moment, he gave a small smile and took it. For a few minutes no one said anything. Logan leaned against the wall and stared out the window. He hated starting conversations. At least Charles knew what he was thinking and could cut right to the chase.

Kurt took a sip and then stared at the bottle, frowning. "I cant believe Americans call this beer." He said.

"Believe it." Said Logan. "But, thats what happens when you ask a Scott to pick up a case of beer."

Kurt laughed. Those two really didnt like each other, but at the same time they definitely seemed to enjoy goading each other. And Scott seemed like such a straight arrow, he must have been out of sorts indeed if Logan had convinced him to buy him a case of beer. "Its better than nothing." Kurt said.

Logan didnt think he could make much more small talk about beer. He took a breath. "Look, I wanted to thank you, you know, for what you did for Rogue. I dont think I could have lost the two of them…"

Kurt shook his head. "It was nothing. I only wish I could have done the same for Miss Grey."

"Well, you tried. It was her choice even if I dont understand it." Logan trailed off.

Kurt opened his mouth to explain the nature of sacrifice, but thought better of it. Logan didnt look like the kind of guy who wanted a sermon. "Is that why youre awake?" He asked instead. "Thinking of her?"

Logan shook his head. "Dreams. I get them every night. That damn lab, things I cant quite remember, things I want to forget. What about you? Do you dream about…" Logan looked down at his hands, unconsciously rubbing his knuckles. When he looked up he saw that Kurt had shifted so he was no longer looking out the window, but facing him.

"I dream about the White House." He said simply, but it wasn’t entirely true. The images Jean Grey had brought to the surface of his consciousness also haunted him. But, he didn’t want to mention her, not to Logan especially. Kurt gazed out the window for a moment and then looked back at Logan. "I cant remember anything that happened to me. I dont know if I want to."

"Believe me, you dont." Logan held up an empty bottle. "You want another?" Kurt glanced down at the half full beer in his hand and shook his head. Logan left the room and returned a short while later, popping the top off another bottle and putting a few more on the windowsill.

"But you have memories from before right?" He said. "You said you were the whosiwhatsit in the whatsit circus?"

Kurt sighed. "The incredible Nightcrawler. The Munich Circus."

Logan looked slightly sheepish. "Look Im sorry about that. Id just been shot in the head and I was pissed off and when I get pissed I get a little… intense." He said gruffly.

Kurt laughed. "Yeah. A little." He said.

"That obvious, huh?"

"Do I have a tail?"

Logan didnt usually laugh, but he found himself chuckling. "Why did they call you Nightcrawler, uh…" he said, groping for a name.

"Kurt."

"Right. Kurt, sorry."

"Its a little embarrassing." Kurt said.

"Cmon. How embarrassing can it be if you keep introducing yourself that way?"

Kurt closed his eyes. "It was my…" Kurt suddenly realized he didnt know if there was a word for it in English. "My mother called me that when I was a baby."

Logan spat out a mouthful of beer. "Really? So you always looked kind of…"

"Demonic?" Kurt finished.

Logan shook his head. "Thats not what I was thinking."

Kurt raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Its not?"

"No. Demons are scary, but youre more like a big…" Logan ran his hand through his hair, searching for an apt description. "Like a big blue elf or something." He finished. Logan was about to make a lame apology for busting the guys ego, but was surprised to hear Kurt laughing.

"Thank you." Kurt said.

Logan shook his head. You never knew what someone was going to take as a compliment nowadays. If someone had called him an elf he would have cut him in half. He cracked open another beer and to be polite offered another to Kurt. Kurt shrugged and took it.

"I cant remember anything." Logan said. "Not even my name. I dont even know if Logan is my first name or my last name."

Kurt was silent.

"I thought Id find answers." Logan continued. "Instead I have more questions. Dont you want to know what happened? What they did to you?"

"Why? So I can have revenge?" Kurt asked.

Logan nodded. "Maybe. Thats what I wanted."

Kurt shook his head. "It would not change what happened. It wont make me forget what I nearly did. Instead I would like to thank the man who shot me."

Logan took a sip of beer and knitted his brow. "You are really strange." He said.

"You mean in ways beside the obvious?" Kurt asked. "I suppose so. But if I avenged all who have treated me unfairly, I would be killing nearly everyone. I dont believe in revenge."

Logan grunted. Kurt wasnt sure if it was in agreement or not. "I think about the people who treated me kindly instead." He continued. "Theyre much more important." Kurt stared out the window again. How long had he been away from his family, his friends? Even if he only counted the days he could recollect, it was still longer than hed ever been apart from them. Thinking about them, out there somewhere in the world, and him here, maybe for a long time made his eyes start to water. Logan didnt seem like the kind of guy who dealt well with crying blue skinned mutants so Kurt blinked them back. "I miss them so so much." He said.

Logan set his beer down on the windowsill. "Charles wants you to stay doesn’t he?"

Kurt nodded.

"And?"

"I need to think about it." Kurt said, "In the past week I tried to assassinate the president, got shot, got hit by lightening, was tossed around in a plane for two days, and according to your Professor Xavier, was ‘instrumental in the effort to save humanity’. Im a little worn out. Not really up to any big decisions."

Logan gave a nod of understanding. "Well, you seem like you know how to keep your head in a fight."

Kurt thought about the only two real fights hed ever been in. The first hed been outnumbered three to one and had been thoroughly trounced and the second hed taken out several dozen armed secret service agents by himself. It was a rather uneven track record.

"You should fire your tailor though." Logan said, gesturing at Kurt with his beer. Kurt looked at his clothes appraisingly. What was wrong with them? They looked fine to him even if they were a little threadbare.

"Yes," he said, glancing up with a mischievous smile, "And afterwards I will fire your barber."

Maybe it was the beer or perhaps lack of sleep, but Logan found himself laughing again. It wasnt a smirk or chuckle; he was actually struggling to keep the beer he had just drunk from spraying out of his nose.

"Are you always like this?" Logan asked when he had composed himself.

Kurt shook his head. "Im usually much much worse. You have no idea the kinds of practical jokes you can play when you can teleport."

"Well, just dont try any on me." Logan said.

"Why, are you afraid you might start laughing again?" Logan looked murderous and Kurt held up his hands. "Dont worry, your secrets safe with me." He hopped off the windowsill. "I should go to bed. Ill never decide if I want to save the world or not if I dont get some rest. Goodnight Logan."

Logan gave a nod and turned back towards the window. "Wait a second. Elf."

Kurt paused at the door, not realizing at first that Logan was addressing him. "Ja?"

"I hope you decide to stay."

Kurt smiled and stepped out of the room, leaving the door slightly ajar behind him. He walked past the television and the boy who watched him go but said nothing. Back in his room he hung his coat back up. As he pulled off his vest his rosary fell out of his pocket. Kurt scooped it off the floor with his tail and dropped it into his hand. He stared at it, feeling its comforting weight at the same time.

What would he do? Could he really go back to the circus after all that he had seen? He realized how safe and predictable his world had been and now knew it was artificial, created for him by Margali and later by Wolfgang. If it hadnt been for him she would have never convinced Wolfgang to buy the circus. It made him realize how protected he had been.

Kurt opened the bible he kept on the bedside table and looked inside the cover, hardly needing to look at the words he had committed to memory so long ago.

“Never forget that your uniqueness is god’s gift to you. However you chose to use it is how you will love and serve him best. – Your friend, Hans Dietrich”

What had that other mutant said? The one who he couldn’t help noticing looked so much like him. “Because we shouldn’t have to.” What if there could be a world where people weren’t afraid of him? Where he wasn’t limited by his appearance? Where he could be anything he wanted. What if he could help make it that way? The safety net had been in place long enough; it was time to take it away and see if he could still perform without it. Kurt knew things wouldnt be easy, but his choice was made. Whatever happened next was in gods hands. He sat down at the desk again and pulled out his letter to scribble a tiny postscript at the bottom.

When he crawled back into bed it suddenly didnt seem so foreign to him. He was safe here. This was his room and he was home.
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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by taekwondodo » Sun Apr 18, 2004 4:17 pm

Gotta say I'm glad you decided to take the plunge into X fanfic - and especially that you decided to share. That was extremely well done. Some of the best movie-verse I've read thus far. The characterization of Kurt, the way you handled the discussion with Logan. Really excellent. (And Logan's right, he should fire his tailor.;) Hate that outfit!) The analogy to working without a net was very good too? If you don't mind my asking, what is your circus background that you mentioned in the introductory post?

Anyway, I'll definitely be watching for the next vignette to appear. If it's half as good as this one you will promptly stall at the top of my favorites list.:D

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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by shakspear » Sun Apr 18, 2004 6:52 pm

That was very well done! I love the characterizations; they were right on target!

Some constructive comments: comma usage-you need to use either a comman and conjunction to connect two independent sentences.
Also, anything associated with a specific diety-i.e. God, the Bible, and He and His when you are talking about God, should be capitalized.

Other than those nitpicky things:p (sorry English teacher), it is a darn good story, and I urge you to keep it up!:D
__________________________________
A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,
We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;
But were we burdened with like weight of pain,
As much or more we should ourselves complain.

Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
Be great in act, as you have been in thought.

William Shakespeare

"Stealing from one person is called plagiarism; stealing from a bunch of people is called research." -Alfred E. Newman.

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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by Saint Kurt » Mon Apr 19, 2004 1:34 am

Thank you both so much! I feel so encouraged.

To answer the first question: I'm a juggler and fire artist. I have also done tightrope, unicycle, and equilibration (balancing on stuff basically). I went to a highschool that was very arts focused. We had an alternative PE program in circus arts. After grad school I moved to Seattle, which has a very strong circus arts community and I performed with several local circus groups. That was where I discovered fire performance and that's pretty much all I do now because I love it so much. I occasionally combine equilibration with fire work, but it's tricky. Chicago, where I live now isn't as circus arts friendly but I do get to perform on occasion. Last friday in fact. :) And we have a very good professional circus called the Midnight Circus.

Thanks for the editorial too. I don't have a beta reader so it's nice to have someone looking over my shoulder for a change.

I'm assuming you ment "use either a comma or a conjunction ...". I ran through some of the other stuff I have and you're right, there is some rather odd punctuation going on. I think I'm at the mercy of my grammar checker and I'm going to have to double check every change it tries to make. Or turn it off.

It's funny you mentioned the diety capitalization because I went back and forth on it. I couldn't decide if I would be offending people with different beliefs if I capitalized it. I think I was over doing the politcal correctness perhaps. I couldn't find it in my style manual either.

I'm going have to go though everything again and fix a few things. When it's good, I'll post more.

Thanks again.
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Baptism by Fire

Post by Saint Kurt » Mon Apr 19, 2004 10:09 pm

Okay that was the prelude. The past starts now.

First a quick note about languages. Since this story takes place in Europe and most of the characters speak more than one language, I chose to write the dialogue completely in English and to work whatever language they are speaking into the story. Most of the time you can assume it’s German; you’ll know when it’s not. The only time un-translated foreign languages appear is when someone doesn’t speak that particular language. I only use it to emphasize their inability to understand what’s being said, the rest of the time English is used so the readers, like the characters can follow the dialogue. I only mention this because I’ve seen a lot of different ways to handle the language problem for these kinds of stories. This was how I chose to deal with it.

The usual disclaimer applies.

"That child is a demon. And you are cursed for saving it. It will drag you down to hell with it."

Margali shifted into a lower gear as she slowly lead the procession of lorries and assorted trailers that was the Circus Gehlhaar down the last turns of the winding mountain pass. They had spent too long in up in Barvaria, trying to get a few last performances in before they moved the circus south for the winter and they had woken up to snow on the ground. It had been a difficult morning, all the ropes were stiff and frozen and Kurt and his team of roustabouts had had a rough time pulling down the tents. Everybody was in a bad mood.

Behind her, Margali could hear her two children, Stephani and Amanda, shifting restlessly in their seats. As the road began to level she moved up a gear, listening the clunking sound it made. Shed have to look at it when they reached Nice, but France wasnt for many miles yet so she hoped it would hold out.

Margalis lorry had once been a delivery truck, a "step van" they had called it, with the cab and cargo space all in one with the roof nearly 12 feet high. At some point it had probably been in the service of some delivery company but now it was painted in bright colors emblazoned with the name "Madame Szardos – Gypsy Fortune Teller" and surrounded by images of tarot cards and palmistry diagrams. Inside, she had turned the space into a cozy, but somewhat primitive living space. What it lacked in conveniences such as running water and electricity it made up in comfort. There were bunks for the children and a sturdy wooden table beside a propane stove that provided both heat and a place to cook. At night, the whole interior was lit with the warm glow of oil lamps and a few candles. It reminded Margali of her heritage; when her people had traveled throughout Europe in horse drawn caravans.

As they came out of the foothills of the Alps, they started to see signs of civilization, clusters of houses in the traditional Bavarian style, looking like gingerbread houses under the fresh coat of snow.

Bored of driving already, Margali found herself contemplating her dream of the night before. All night she had dreamt of fire – she had been walking through it – even engulfed by it. It was a strange dream, but she had grown up with gypsies and knew enough not to dismiss an omen when it came. It made her wary. Fire was the force of change, both destruction and of new beginnings.

There were half a dozen new religions that were gaining popularity under the guise of witchcraft and sorcery; all of them were watered down versions of the true magic, the magic of her mother and her grandmother. Her magic. But sorcery wasnt a viable career occupation in todays world and so she had found the best place to hide her practice – telling fortunes with tarot cards and crystal balls. They were all props of course, but they were what made people believe.

The circus pulled into the outskirts of a small village. It was isolated and old, the sort of town where people didnt like change. The road hadnt been cleared of the snow and there was a look of stagnation, like the town had been preserved in a near pre-industrial state. Only the occasional television antenna broke the illusion that the place had been left back in time. Margali hated towns like these. These people were just a scant generation or two removed from those who had persecuted her family, calling them witches and heretics, throwing stones at them and setting fire to their wagons. There was a church bell clanging incessantly, which only added to her general desire to pass through and be gone.

Her dream flashed into her mind again and she sat up straighter. Was that burning she smelled or was she just being silly, imagining it? She sniffed the air and looked upward for signs of smoke. When she turned her attention back to the road she had to slam on the brakes with both feet. She heard the rest of the lorries and vans doing the same behind her. She hardly noticed when her lorry stalled and then engine died.

There was a woman kneeling in the middle of the snow-covered street, her hands bright with blood. She had on a white apron and that too was splashed with gore. She was nearly hysterical; her face was streaked with tears mingling with smears of blood from her hands.

Margali jumped out of the truck, Amanda and Stephani leaping from their seats and following her.

"Look after Amanda." She told Stephani, "Stay back." Amanda was barely two and Stephani only a few years older. Stephani pulled the toddler protectively toward his chest and pressed his back against the front grill, not taking his eyes off of the scene in front of him.

Margali knelt beside the woman. She was saying words as she wailed and at first they were incomprehensible. Finally the woman calmed enough to point a shaking hand one of the typical gingerbread houses that was hardly more than a cabin. "That house is cursed." She said.

Margali turned to look at it and for the first time noticed that the woman wasnt alone. The tiny yard around the house was crowded with people. She could tell even through the snow that it had once been a well-kept garden. Now it was in a trampled state as nearly a dozen people bustled around the house, some nailing boards across the doors and windows and others splashing liquid from metal cans around the foundation walls. A man wearing what looked like a priests cassock under his coat was standing next to a barren tree holding a large cross and muttering under his breath. Margali narrowed her eyes. The scene stunk of the kind of religious discrimination that set her teeth on edge.

"Why?" She asked, already inwardly seething, but careful to keep a controlled exterior. By now the rest of the members of the circus were out of their vehicles and watching the scene. She could hear them asking what the hold up was in various languages, wondering what she was up to.

"There was a birth. It killed the mother. And the father, he…" This started up the womans wailing anew and Margali began to understand that she was a midwife.

Now the people who had been boarding up the house were standing back watching as one of them painted a giant black "X" on the door. It occurred to Margali how strange it was that no one had come to comfort the midwife; that they were concentrating only on the house. Surely anyone could understand her distress, to see a woman die in childbirth… Margali shuddered.

She saw Lysette, a heavily tattooed woman who was also a superb acrobat try to place a blanket over the womans shoulders. "You must be cold." Lysette said, her French accent making her German almost impenetrable.

The midwife was indeed shivering and so Margali was surprised when she flung the blanket away and stood up. "Dont you understand? That house is cursed, and I… I touched it. And now Im cursed."

Margali dropped her comforting demeanor. Magic she respected but superstition was totally different. "What do mean cursed? Touched what? What happened in that house?" She demanded. She stood her full height with her hands on her hips. The rest of the circus was watching now, their eyes darting from one woman to the other.

"It was a monster. An abomination. It killed the mother and the father died the same instant." The women looked wildly at the house and then back at Margali. "I called the priest. There was nothing else I could do." She said, suddenly calm.

Margali sighed and looked back at the house. Flames were now beginning to lick at the outer walls. For a moment everybody appeared mesmerized, staring at the house and the flames, trying not to imagine the scene this poor woman had witnessed. There was nothing anyone could do. The house would burn and its ashes would become the familys grave. She was sorry shed even got involved.

"Lets go." She said and taking Stephanis shoulder, guided him gently towards the van. Let these people keep their superstitions and their prejudice, she thought. The roustabouts, eager to get going, followed suit. And then Margali stopped. One of the trucks was already running again and she waved her hand at it, signaling the driver to cut the engine. She heard it again. And she slowly turned towards the midwife, now standing mute, staring at the flames.

"The baby is alive?" Margali asked in horror. She could hear it clearly now, the high-pitched cries of a newborn.

"Its not a baby." The midwife said dully.

Margali pushed past her and marched towards the house. It was starting to burn with bright orange flames, a thin column of dark smoke curling up into the sky. She could her the wood popping and cracking with the heat. Suddenly frantic, she went to the front door, which was still free of flames and started pulling at the boards. To her surprise no one tried to stop her, but the boards wouldnt come free. She pulled and pulled, driven by the cries of the baby inside, but they held fast.

"Help me!" she cried and it was then she realized that the reason no one had tried to intervene was because the members of the circus had made a protective circle around her and the house. For a moment nobody moved. Finally, Kurt, the circus strong man and chief roustabout strode forward. He began pulling boards from the door with his giant hands like they were toothpicks and was quickly joined by others, prying at the boards and even trying to shovel snow against the house to quell the flames.

Finally she reached the door and with a mighty push from Kurt, it fell upon the cottage floor. Without hesitation, Margali stepped inside. She now knew why she had dreamed of fire that night and it made her know that her action was right and true.

Inside, the house was simple; kitchen, bed, and living space all in a single room that was quickly filling with smoke. The boarded windows shut out all light other than the flames beginning to peek through the cracks in the walls. Holding her sleeve to her mouth, Margali bent over double and made her way towards the bed at the far wall. A window breaking from the heat made her jump and glance over her shoulder. The entire wall and every thing near it burst explosively into flame. Margali shielded her face from the heat and turned her attention back to the bed. There was a woman on it. She had died in agony, the sheets drenched in her blood and her body twisted.

Margali placed a hand on the womans forehead and said the words that would keep her safe on the paths of the dead. But she saw no sign of an infant. The smoke was getting thicker and Margali had to crawl to stay below it. Then she heard the cries again, issuing from under the bed. She could barely see the child in the shadows. Grabbing the cleanest of the bedding she reached under and pulled the blankets around it. Holding the bundle protectively against her chest Margali made to crawl towards the front door.

Even in the short space of time she had been in the house, the fire had spread. The front door was still open, fire beginning to creep along the frame. Margali crawled faster, trying not to breathe as each inhalation made her lungs sting from the smoke. There was a loud crack and suddenly a beam from the roof slammed down in front of the door, spreading flames with it.

"No!" She screamed as she watched her only exit disappear into a burst of flame fueled with the air from the open roof. Fighting panic, Margali jumped to her feet. Only one of the walls was free of flames now and she made her way toward it. She was going to die here with this infant and its family leaving her own children orphans. Her dream had been a warning, not a message. Even the strongest magic was like that – ambiguous even at its most powerful. And then she heard it, the sound of something large being hammered against the wall. She knelt down, trying to keep herself as far away from the burning interior as possible; hardly aware of how tightly she was clutching the bundle of blankets to her chest.

The hammering continued, a rhythmic banging on the wall, each blow so hard that it shook the whole cabin. She let out a small scream of surprise when the wall broke open, letting in much needed light and air. Then she realized it was one of the center poles from their biggest tent. She could hear Kurts powerful voice as he directed the team to use the pole like a battering ram, knocking down the side of the house to free her. When the hole was big enough she reached out a hand and felt herself pulled to safety.

Kurt gathered Margali up into his arms as he pulled her from the burning house, carried her to safety and then flung her down into the snow to stamp out the flames on her clothes with one of his sturdy boots. Margali lay there with her eyes shut enjoying the coolness of the snow and breathing great gulps of air. She could smell singed hair and cloth. It had been a stupid stunt she knew, but both she and the child where safe. Her dream hadnt been a warning after all. She heard laughing and opened her eyes. Kurt was standing over her chucking, his great arms folded over his chest.

"Youre insane." He said.

Margali smiled, brushing her hair aside and feeling the soot covering her face. "I know." She said, "but we did a good deed." She turned and saw Stephani and Amanda a few feet a way and was relived that they too were safe. Her smile faded when she realized that the child was silent and had been for some time. Fearing she had accidentally smothered the infant in her attempt to save it, she slowly released her grip on the blankets. Margali unwrapped the bundle and felt her breath catch in her throat.

The baby was blue, but not the dusky hue of oxygen depravation; it was a deeper shade, like the color of midnight. The infant stared up at her, blinking yellow eyes. Margali was mesmerized. She had never seen anything like it. The baby was … beautiful. She hardly noticed the crunch of snow as Kurt knelt down next to her.

"What is it?" Kurt asked slowly, she could hear the same disbelief she felt in his voice.

Snapped back to reality, Margali took a quick peek deeper into the blankets. "What is he?" She corrected. And before he could say more she answered, "A baby" and stood up. She and Kurt walked slowly back to where the rest of the circus was assembled with Stephani and Amanda trailing hand in hand behind them.

"We should go." She said, eyeing the priest and his small congregation, standing slightly apart from the midwife. Holding her head high and cradling the infant in her arms, she walked slowly back to her van. She helped Amanda in with one hand and was about to climb in herself when she felt something wet hit the back of her head. Margali turned around. The priest had spit on her.

"That child is a demon. And you are cursed for saving it. It will drag you down to hell with it." The priest said.

Margali was suddenly livid, she could feel rage bubbling up and rising to the surface. How dare he judge her when he had consigned a living being to flames? She spit back at him. "Ill save you a seat next to us." She said.

She felt a strong arm guide her up the step into the lorry and obediently climbed in, still staring daggers at the priest and his followers while the house continued to burn behind them. She sank down into one of the cushions they used for seats and was vaguely aware of the lorry starting and driving off. She looked up and was relieved to see that Kurt had asked one of his charges to drive. She looked out the side window and watched the tiny town disappear behind them.

Suddenly content Margali leaned back in her seat. Stephani and Amanda both sat silently across the room from her as though they didnt know what to do. Margali smiled and beckoned them closer so they could meet their new brother.
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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by theindigojester » Mon Apr 19, 2004 11:41 pm

Wonderful job! :) i am truly enjoying this history that you are creating. You have done great work with detail and imagery; it is not too hard to actually imagine waht is going on. i am glad that you decided to post this story. Keep up the good work!
"A face only a mother could hurl into a river."
:):evokurt:moviecrawler:ultimate;)

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Little Kurt

Post by Saint Kurt » Thu Apr 22, 2004 12:40 am

One thing I completely forget to mention is that Margali’s childrens’ names are a little messed up. I named Kurt’s foster brother “Stephani” because what I thought it was. When I learned their was no “i”, I decided I still liked Stephani better and since this is my total historical revision, I kept it. Also, the Jimaine/Amanda thing was confusing so I decided to go with Amanda since I liked Chuck Austen’s characterization of her and Margali in his X2 prequel.

And a personal note: I was planning to post these a little more often, but my cat’s been really sick. He passed away this morning. At 17 I knew his time was coming but I was still pretty heartbroken. You don’t expect the kitten you got at 16 to still be with you when you’re in your 30’s.

Disclaimer: It should go without saying that I don’t own the X-Men and I am just doing this for fun.


“Its the circus, nobody will know its not a costume.”


Margali hadnt expected much to change with her newly enlarged family; after all she had raised both Stephani and Amanda on her own. When the circus stopped to camp for the night after the fire, she named her new charge Kurt. It seemed only fitting since the strongman had rescued them both. Kurt, the quintessential gentle giant had blushed when she told him, but took it as an honor. The child was passed around from performer to performer and all agreed that once they got used to him, he was pretty cute.

The new Kurt quickly became quite a sensation amongst the troupe. Since they had all played some part in pulling him from the burning house there was the general consensus that he was not Margali’s child, but theirs. He was mentioned so often in conversation that he was designated "Little Kurt" while the Strongman became "Big Kurt" so not to confuse anyone.

But at the end of each day Little Kurt slept in Margalis trailer and she loved him like one of her own. That didnt stop her wondering exactly what she had gotten herself into. She was worried when he didnt seem able to sit up like other babies his age, but this fear was quelled the day she found him "perched" with his knees bent double and his hands on the floor. His unique hands and feet made him adept at climbing and it seemed that he learned to crawl and climb on the same day. Of course there was his tail, which he used as kind of a counter balance making him the fastest crawler that Margali had ever seen. And he was nocturnal.

Much to Margalis relief Kurt slept most of the day, allowing her to work as a fortuneteller while he napped in a covered bassinette beside her. The downside of this was that he was up most of the night. This was fine at first; during the night she would find him awake in his crib, sucking the tip of his tail, looking at her with wide yellow eyes that glowed like a cats when the light hit them. When he saw her he would stop, grin toothlessly, and reach out with his little hands. Margali would occasionally oblige by picking him up and carrying him to her bed so he could curl up next to her.

Once he learned to climb and crawl however, those peaceful nights ended. Margali and her children often woke in the morning to find that things had moved during the night, usually toys and books scattered about the floor but sometimes things like silverware and plates. Margali thought it was Stephani or maybe Amanda at first but they insisted that they slept through the night. The only other reasonable culprit was Kurt, but that was impossible. He couldn’t possibly climb out of his crib at night, at least not without being heard. And so the family blamed each evenings mischief on "the mysterious nightcrawler".

The mystery lasted until Margali, during a bout of insomnia watched in amazement as Kurt slowly pulled himself up, climbed up the bars of his crib, and then climbed down the bars head first, using his tail like a rappelling device. He dropped gently to the floor and crawled over to the childrens toy box. He turned around and when he saw her sitting up in bed, smiled, crawled over and leapt into the bed like a cat.

Margali stifled a laugh. Kurt really was the nightcrawler. The name stuck even when he graduated to "nightwalker" status.


***

When the show was over and the public had gone home a common sight was that of Big Kurt strolling through their campground with Little Kurt perched up on his shoulders. He was small for his age but far more agile than he should have been. He knew all the performers by name and would greet them in their own languages. When he saw Margali he would leap down into her arms wrapping himself around her in a giant hug. Everyone thought it was cute, but Margali was wondering how much longer it would be before he became too heavy to catch.

He had been raised collectively by the circus and so he was welcome in every tent and trailer. His unique abilities made him popular with the roustabouts when it came time to raise or lower the tents. Kurt would scale the poles and thread the ropes for them. Margali would shut her eyes, he looked so tiny way up high, but he always made it back to the ground safely.

Kurt was so precocious that Margali worried about her other children feeling left out. She tried to make sure that each one of them knew that they were just as special. Amanda didnt seem to care and often followed Kurt around the grounds, sharing in the attention. Stephani, Kurts elder by nearly four years, didnt admit to jealousy but she had seen him glaring at Kurts antics more than once. Kurt never seemed to notice however and Margali was pleased to see that whenever the two brothers were together, the animosity melted away. In fact, the three of them played so raucously that she was forever kicking them out the trailer so they could raise hell outside.

And so life went on like that for several years. They traveled around Europe doing shows during the summer and spent the winters in the south training and doing an occasional performance. The circus was like a large nomadic family, working and living together and within that family Margali had her own. As they got older, she delighted in the way each one of her children found their own identity. Stephani showed little interest in performing or circus work but read everything he could get his hands on and even talked about going away to school. Amanda, Margali noticed was beginning to show an aptitude for magic. Shed expected this; women were naturally magical particularly those in ther family. Kurt was fascinated by the acrobats.

Circus Gehlhaars acrobatic and aerialist troupe was another family within the circus family. They were from Sweden and they called themselves "Lycka på Himmelen" which meant "bliss in the sky" in Swedish. There were 9 members in all: a husband and wife with a son and two daughters, plus various cousins. They were all blonde with pale skin and fine features. Kurt watched every practice perched in the top row of the stands. Their youngest son, Lars was his age and he was beginning to learn the trapeze. Kurt was wild with envy. He had been up on the platforms, had even helped hang the trapeze rigging, but he was forbidden to climb or swing on them.

Everyday, when it was Lars turn to practice Kurt watched him swing out and back and out and back while his father controlled the safety harness he wore. Then Sven, Lars cousin would swing out and catch Lars by the wrists so that Lars could release the trapeze with his feet and swing to the other platform. Kurt was sure he could do it too.

He devised an elaborate plan. If he was to learn the trapeze with Lars, he would have to get the troupes attention first. While the family practiced, he quietly left his usual seat and snuck along the side of the tent until he was at one of the diagonal ropes that was anchored to the ground to support the high wire platform. After testing its strength Kurt slowly inched his way up, gripping the scratchy rope with both his hands and his toes. Kurt hated shoes and only wore them when it was too cold to go without.

At the top of the platform he looked down. The trapeze rig was just below him, he had planned to walk out on the high wire, leap off of it, turn a forward somersault and catch the trapeze below him. He would then use his momentum to gracefully swing to the platform to everyones amazement. Hed seen it in his head so many times, but now he was having second thoughts.

The high wire, which always appeared so thick coiled on the ground, looked suddenly very very narrow. Kurt took a tentative step on to it and then another. In order to keep his balance he had to take another step and then one after the other until he was out in the middle between the two platforms. He stopped and tried to balance himself using his arms and his tail but it was impossible. He had intended to time his jump carefully to insure that there was actually a trapeze to catch, but his body pitched forward and when he swung his tail around as a counterbalance he went over backwards.

Kurt hardly had time to get his bearings and when he looked down, Sven was swinging forward, ready to be caught by Papa on the opposite trapeze. He yelled a warning before colliding with Sven in midair and wrapping his arms around him. At the same time Kurt caught the trapeze that Sven had just left with his tail and the two of them were pulled backwards. For a split second Kurt thought everything was going to be fine, but Sven was too heavy. His tail loosened and the two of them fell into the net in a tangled heap.


***

"You could have just asked." Sven said.

The acrobats, now accompanied by Margali were standing in a semi circle around Kurt who sat rather than perched on the lowest row of seats with his tail hanging down limply behind him. Kurt glanced at Margali who had her hands folded across her chest and he nodded miserably.

"You or Sven could have been injured." Papa said. "That would have been very bad for the circus." Kurt stared that the ground, wishing he could disappear.

"Well?" Margali said.

"Im sorry." Kurt said for what seemed like the fortieth time.

"No, ask your question." Margali said.

"Oh." Kurt said quietly. He looked up at Papa and cleared his throat, suddenly nervous. This wasnt how he had imagined it at all. "I was thinking that, um if youre teaching Lars, that um, I could learn too." He returned his gaze to the ground.

Papa shrugged and looked at Sven. "Do you want to teach two boys instead of one?" he asked.

"I dont see why not." Sven said.

"Its hard work." Papa said. "And only if your mother agrees."

Kurt looked expectantly at Margali.

"You have to promise youll listen to them and do what they say." She said.

"I promise."

"And youll have to practice, even when youd rather be doing something else."

"I know." Said Kurt, but the truth was that he couldnt imagine wanting to do anything else.

"And no more climbing to places where you dont belong." Margali finished.

Kurt sighed. "Okay."

"Then you can do it." Margali said.

Kurt grinned and hopped up on the balls of his feet before leaping into Margalis arms and nearly knocking her over. He thought hed never stop thanking her, but he finally pulled himself together and put his feet back on the ground before Margali dropped him.


***

"Ow."

"Hey!"

"Well, you shouldnt have hit me."

"It was an accident. Dont pull my tail."

"Watch out Amanda."

"Lars, stop it."

"I said leave my tail alone!"

Margali put her hands to her temples and massaged them, then she took a deep breath. "Enough!" She shouted.

The sound of four children playing in too small a space stopped abruptly and they looked at her expectantly.

"Go outside." She said.

"But its raining." Amanda said quietly.

"I dont care. Play in the big tent then. But dont get in anybodys way."

Margali watched the children put on their coats and hats. Stephan slid the lorrys side door open. "Oh and Kurt…"

"Yes?"

"No more than six feet off the ground."

Kurt sighed. "Okay," he said in mock exasperation and followed the children out the door.

"Finally." Margali said. She got up to slide the open door closed to keep the heat in. "Sorry Annika, they were driving me crazy."

Annika Olsson laughed. She was Lars mother and one of the four women in the Swedish aerialist troupe. She waved her hand at Margali as if to brush her worries aside. "I get it worse than you" she said. "There are usually nine people in our trailer whether they live there or not."

Margali laughed and picked up her cup of coffee. Annika followed suit and the two women enjoyed a moment of silence, sipping coffee and watching the rain.

"So?" Margali asked after few minutes.

"Oh, of course." Annika put her cup down. "I came to talk about Kurt."

"Hes not causing you any trouble is he?" As he had promised, Kurt arrived on time to every practice and would come home exhausted. Margali could tell he was working hard, but his carefree attitude about nearly everything could be trying.

"Oh, no. It’s just the opposite in fact. Hes doing very well. Wed like him to perform with us."

Margali had been about to take a sip of her drink. She put the cup down. "But its hardly been two months. And hes not even seven years old yet. And theres well," Margali paused, "the way he looks."

"Hes got all the basics down and even some more advanced things that the kids dont usually do until theyre a little older. Hell have turned seven by the time we play. My first show was when I was eight."

"Thats all fine, I mean, Im pleased. But in front of all those people…" Margali let her voice trail off. She had carefully kept Kurt from view of outsiders. Within the circus community he was safe, but she had seen what fear could do. She didnt want to risk it.

"You cant hide him forever. And hes a wonderful aerialist, a natural. He could be a great performer. And his appearance could be an asset if it was presented the right way. Its the circus, nobody will know its not a costume." Annika was leaning across the table. She had watched Kurt during practice and she had seen it in his eyes. He wanted this. He had grown up with performers and had picked from them ability and desire to direct attention his way.

"When?" Margali asked.

"At the end of the winter we play the carnival in France. Its a few weeks from now. Hell be more than ready."

"And his appearance?"

"We thought maybe a story instead of a straight aerial and acrobatic routine; something to explain his appearance. You know, why he looks like,” Annika paused.

"A little blue demon." Margali finished.

Annika shrugged and nodded at the same time. "Maybe a sorceress conjures him. Thats what we were thinking anyway."

Margali sat back. Maybe Annika was right. Kurt had somehow managed to grow up blissfully unaware that his appearance was anything but an asset. He had no idea that most of the world would find him frightening rather than cute. But someday he would learn the truth about how the world really was and it would only get worse. A child with pointed teeth and ears that had a tail was far less threatening than an adult with the same features. Perhaps it was time to introduce the world to Kurt on Kurts terms instead of theirs.

"If he wants to, he has my permission."

Annika smiled. "I know he will." She said. She got up. "Ill let him know at practice tomorrow." She said. Annika paused at the door. "Should I send them back in?" she asked.

Margali shook her head. "Im enjoying the quiet." She said. She watched Annika leave and leaned back in her seat. She had never meant to become a mother, and yet she loved her three children deeply. But the only one she ever worried about was Kurt. She had been so careful to keep him out of sight for so long. She hoped she had made the right decision.
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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by theindigojester » Thu Apr 22, 2004 4:35 am

I'm very sorry about your cat zam, at least it sounds like he led a good, long life. I hope you are able to remember the times you shared together. A wise woman once told me: "Don't be sad that it is over, be glad that it happened."

As for your story: still top notch! You are putting so much detail in and I love it. It is easy to just jump ahead through things, but you are taking the story nice and slow so we can learn about all these little things Kurt has gone through and how it has shaped him. Thanks! Keep up the good work.
"A face only a mother could hurl into a river."
:):evokurt:moviecrawler:ultimate;)

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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by Saint Kurt » Mon Apr 26, 2004 5:34 am

Thanks about Rufus. Yeah, his time had come and we definitely had a lot of fun. (He travelled all over the country with me.) It was still sad though.

There aren't a lot of comments, but it seems that people are reading this. I hope you don't think it sucks. (You can tell me if it does. I accept all opinions.)

I've been thinking this whole arc could use a name, but I'm kind of at a loss. Naming the individual stories is fairly easy, but coming up with an overall name is alot harder than I thought. I'll still thinking about it, but if any ideas come to mind I'm all ears.

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The Incredible Nightcrawler

Post by Saint Kurt » Mon Apr 26, 2004 5:40 am

"I want to do it again. I want to do it every night."


It was a tight squeeze. The paper mache cauldron was small to begin with, but he had to be packed in there with a spot light that was to shine upward after it was rolled out. Kurt was glad he wasnt claustrophobic. He thought that starting the act by hiding in the cauldron was a good idea at first. He was nervous enough without having to look at a tent full of people. But he could still hear them and that was almost worse.

He lay curled around the light listening to the amplified voices of Sven and Papa telling a story about three witches who wanted to make a child. It was almost time. There was rustling around him and he knew it was Annika and her sisters, their costumes hidden under long witches robes, surrounding the cauldron. In a moment they would raise their arms, the light would come on, and he would have jump out before it got too hot. He could hear the music getting louder. It was very close now. Hed rehearsed this so many times, but now it was different. People were watching. He was supposed to entertain them.

Suddenly the light came to life. Kurt jumped up onto the wooden edges of the cauldron, staying as low as possible so he wouldnt be seen and at the same time keeping his tail away from the hot light below him. He knew that the light was casting his shadow up on the canvas ceiling of the tent. Margali had said she thought that they were asking too much of him. That the act was too complicated for a first performance, but Kurt had insisted he could do it. He stole a quick glance up to the trapeze rig. It was so high up, was he really going to be able to jump up there? Youve done it before, he reminded himself, and you dont have to go all the way up, Sven will catch you.

Annika smiled. "Ready." She whispered.

Kurt nodded. His throat was too dry to speak. He climbed off the cauldron onto the platform the three women made with their hands, preparing to jump. Annika counted to three and Kurt launched himself into the air, boosted by the three women. He looked up to the point where Sven was going to be and felt Svens hands close on his wrists when he got there. It was happening. His first performance, the moment he had been both anticipating and dreading for the last month was happening now. Kurt didnt have time to think about it. He closed his hands about Svens wrists as they swung forward.

At the top of the arc, they let go. Kurt used his forward momentum to turn a somersault before the next catch. He spotted his landing, reaching out, knowing that Papas hands would be there to catch him. He felt the catch and locked his hands around Papas thick wrists, feeling Papas lock around his own. As Papa swung forward he flipped Kurt up onto the trapeze. Kurt landed lightly, his knees bent, his toes gripping the bar. He stayed on the bar while it swung to the platform and Papa swung himself up and hopped off. Kurts trapeze was on its way back to the center. He gripped the bar with his hands and let go with his feet so his body swung around with the momentum of his arc. This is the hardest trick, he thought, and then it will be over. Having finished his forward flip around the bar, Kurt let go with his hands so he was flung feet first towards where Sven was supposed to catch his ankles.

It was the hardest one because he couldnt see if Sven had actually swung out to catch him. They had missed more than once in practice and each time hed hung in midair for a moment before falling into the net. Kurt felt Svens hands around his ankles and he used the momentum to pop himself up onto the bar so that he was standing on it. Sven switched positions and pumped his legs to swing the trapeze back to the platform. Once he was there Kurt did a backflip off the bar and landed lightly on the platform. Annikas sister Freya, now out of her witch costume held out a hand to steady him so he didnt fall off, but Kurt didnt need it, his landing was solid.

He stood, catching his breath and realizing that his part in the show was over. For the first time he looked around and saw that people were cheering. Had they been cheering for him? He had hardly noticed. For the last few minutes the entire world had been erased except for Papa, Sven, and himself.

"Good job" Freya whispered in his ear. Then she caught a trapeze that was thrown to her and was gone.

Kurt watched the show from the platform for a few moments and then climbed down the ladder. His usual way of getting down during practices was to jump off the platform into the net, but Papa had forbidden him from doing it during the show. Too distracting, he had said. Once on the ground Kurt ran around the side of the net to the outside of the tent where Margali was waiting.

"Did you see me?" He asked the moment she came into view.

"Of course. You were wonderful." She knelt down and gathered him into her arms.

"I want to do it again." Kurt said. "I want to do it every night."

"And you will." Margali said. "As long as you want to. Oops. Lets get out of the way." She stood up and ushered Kurt to the side so two of the roustabouts could push several colorful wooden stands on a cart past them.

Annika was the first of the Olssons to arrive in the area outside the tent that served as their backstage. She grabbed Kurt in a big hug, lifting him off the ground. "You did so well." She said, mussing up his hair. The rest of the Olssons began to filter through the tent flaps, each one congratulating Kurt on a fine first performance. Margali stood slightly away from the group. Kurt looked so happy. Annika had been right, the best place for her son to hide was in front of an audience. I took her a moment to realize she that the more than happiness, she felt relief. There would be no angry mobs for Kurt, but applause instead.

"We want to introduce you when we go out and bow at the end." Papa said. "What should we call you?"

Kurt looked at Margali for assistance. "I dont know." He said, "Kurt?"

Papa waved his hand and shook his head. "No, no, no. You need a stage name. Something that fits the way you look."

"The Blue Demon?" Lars eldest sister asked. Kurt cocked his head in confusion and Margali glared daggers at her.

They threw names back and forth, very careful not to tread in demon or devil territory. They all sounded ridiculous to Margali. She wished she had thought of this before, but she wasnt even sure Kurt would like performing. And she had harbored a secret fear that perhaps the crowd would see through his disguise. How silly it all seemed now. She smiled to herself, thinking about the night shed watched Kurt climb out of his crib so he could crawl around the room. He was practically born for this. Then it hit her.

"The Mysterious Nightcrawler." Margali shouted and everybody stopped talking. Kurt blushed a deep shade of purple.

"Mom. No. Thats embarrassing." Kurt stamped his foot at her and glared. Margali stuck out her tongue.

Papa scratched his head. "I like it." He said.

"You do?" Kurt asked.

"But not mysterious, Kurt doesnt seem that mysterious to me." Sven pitched in.

Various adjectives were suggested until they settled on "incredible". Papa peeked around the side of the curtain and motioned Kurt to his side.

"When we go out to bow, stay back by that pillar there." He said. Kurt saw the pillar he was pointing to. "Remember that double forward salto you were doing the other day, from a run?" Kurt nodded. He had only just started learning their floor routines, but when they saw how high he could jump, Sven had started teaching him how to do simple aerial maneuvers. It was fun and when Kurt had seen the amazing flips and twists Sven could do, he was eager to learn them.

"When they introduce you, do your aerial towards me and Ill catch you." Papa said. Kurt knitted his brow and then smiled when he understood. He agreed and after a few more hugs and congratulations from the Olssons, was left alone with Lars. They stood, peeking around the open tent flap so they could watch the show.

"I wish I had gotten to perform." Lars said.

"I do too." Said Kurt. "It was kind of scary all alone. When your dad says you’re ready, we should do something together."

Lars grinned.

"But make up a stage name first." Kurt advised. "Otherwise youll end up with your nickname."
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Traumatic Incident Number 1

Post by Saint Kurt » Mon Apr 26, 2004 5:57 am

That was really short. Here's another.


[i]"We can't choose what we look like, only how we act. You act like an angel so to me you look like one.”[/i]

The game was hide-and-go-seek. It was a lovely summer afternoon and since it was a weekday, there would be no performances until the evening. That meant that all of the circus children, the “brats” as they were known, had the whole afternoon to play. Stephani was “it”. As he started counting with his hands covering his eyes, the children scattered. They knew not to go too far from the camp, but there were still plenty of trees and wild grass to hide behind in addition to the ample spots on the circus grounds.

Amanda and Lars took off in towards the trees and Kurt followed them, bounding through the grass on all fours. The threesome ran through the tall grass until they came to a low stone wall. Lars crouched down next to it. Kurt and Amanda slid into place next to him.

"This is my hiding place. You have to get your own." Lars said.

The two of them looked around for possibilities. There were a few trees, but no really good places to hide unless they wanted to return to the camp.

"There's nowhere to go." Amanda said.

Kurt peeked over the wall and pointed up the hill towards a large stone building with colorful windows.

"Let's hide in there." He said. Lars turned so he could peek over the wall.

"Ooo. I bet there's a lot of good places in there." Amanda said. She pulled herself up onto the wall and dropped down on the other side. Kurt climbed up the wall after her but Lars grabbed his shirt to hold him back. Kurt stopped mid-climb and looked back at his friend.

"What are you doing? Stephani's going to find us."

"You can't go in there." Lars said.

Kurt looked perplexed. "Why not? Are we not allowed?" He asked. They heard Stephani finish his count. "Ready or not here I come." He shouted.

"We've got to hide." Said Amanda urgently. "Let's go."

"I think it's just you're not allowed." Said Lars. Now Kurt was really perplexed.

"Who said that? Why just me and not everybody?" Kurt asked, ignoring Amanda who finally gave up and started up the hill in the opposite direction. He slid back down the wall and crouched down next Lars.

"It's a church. You'll get hit by lightening if you go in there." Lars' explanation was even more confusing.

"What are you talking about? It's not even raining." Kurt said, lowering his voice now that Stephani was out looking for them.

"Mary told me. She said you were unholy and that if you ever went into a church you would be struck down by God's lightening." Lars whispered earnestly.

"By lightening?” Kurt whispered skeptically, “I don't think that's true." Mary was the cook who made all their meals when they traveled. She had been with the circus every summer for years and she had always seemed a little batty to Kurt. "I'm going." He said and stood up. Lars grabbed his hand and pulled him back down.

"I'm serious. She showed me pictures." Lars said emphatically, completely forgetting they were supposed to be quiet.

"What kind of pictures?" Kurt was getting irritated. He could hear Stephani swishing through the grass. Lars was ruining his chances at hiding. Stephani was going to tag him first and he was going to be it and he hated that.

"Shhh. He's coming." Lars said. He and Kurt held their breaths. The listened as Stephani waded through the grass towards them stopped and then turned around, swishing his way back the way he had come.

"That was close." Kurt said. Then they heard Stephani calling for everyone to come out. He had tagged Gretchen, the daughter of a pair of contortionists. She was learning the act too and though she could squeeze herself into the most incredible hiding spots, it took time to extract herself. She always got tagged. Lars' warning seemingly forgotten, they got up and ran back to camp to start the game again.

***

But Kurt hadn't forgotten and the next day he recruited Lars to help him find the pictures that apparently showed him being hit by lightening in the church. Mary was working in the outdoor kitchen so the trailer she shared with Lars' aunt Freya was empty. They didn't have much time, the Olsson's were rehearsing that afternoon which meant both Kurt and Lars would need to be there. They peeked around the side.

"Go stand over there and keep a look out." Lars said. Kurt nodded and walked away from the trailer as casually as he could. He had a good spot where he could see both Mary and the door. As Mary didn't seem to have any inclination towards leaving the kitchen Kurt quickly grew bored. A few minutes later he saw Lars emerge with a large thin leather bound book. He motioned for Kurt to follow and the pair dashed over to Margali's empty Van. Inside they slid the door shut and started laughing.

"I got it." Said Lars. "Did she see?"

Kurt shook his head. "She was cooking the whole time."

"What's for dinner then?" Lars asked and laid the book down on Margali's sturdy wooden table, the only real furniture they had. Lars sat down and started paging through the book while Kurt hopped up on the table and perched opposite him. It was a picture book, but it wasn't like any one he'd ever seen. Most of the pictures were black and white line drawings that looked very old but a few were in color. Even upside down they gave Kurt the creeps. Lars' question about dinner was forgotten as the pages flipped.

"Mary said this is a book about demons that God cast out of heaven because they were unclean." He said stopping every few pages. "Here." Lars said. He turned the book around so Kurt could see. It was a line drawing of a woman on the ground struggling with some kind of winged creature. The creature was like a man but with wings and a tail. He gripped the woman with clawed hands as she cried out in the image.

"I don't have wings." Kurt said.

"But you have a tail." Said Lars. Kurt picked up the end of his tail in his hand and looked at it as though seeing it for the first time. He wasn't quite sure what Lars was talking about. Heaven? God? Demons? Margali had never told him about any of this. And what did Mary mean he was "unholy"? He wondered if the cook was making up stories to scare them. Then again, he really did have a tail.

Lars took the book back, flipped through the pages again and pushed it back at Kurt. "Look at this one." He said.

This one was an elaborate painting in full color. There was a lot going on in it. A man with bird's wings took flight while beneath him another man in black robes held a golden cross high in the air. People were writhing on the uneven ground that was littered with skulls and bones. In the middle of it all, shielding his face from the cross was a darkened figure. He didn't have wings but he had pointed ears and a tail.

"She said this is a demon being vanquished by an angel." Lars said pointing to each figure as he described it.

This picture worried Kurt more than the other. It really did look like a grown-up version of him. "What's vanquished mean?" He asked in a hushed voice.

"I don't know." Lars admitted. Looking at the picture, Kurt didn't think it looked like a good thing. He turned a few of the pages himself, suddenly aware how different his hands looked from Lars'. He usually didn't think about the fact that he had a tail, but now he was conscious of every movement it made. He curled it around his ankle to stop it from twitching and that made him realize that even the way he was sitting was odd. Normal people sat in chairs; they didn't perch on tables. Kurt stretched one foot out behind him until he found a chair. He slowly sank down into it.

All the pictures told the same story: angels were good and demons were bad. Between the pictures were pages of text but it was in English and he couldn't read English. It made Kurt uncomfortable, he thought of all the times he had made Margali angry and he wondered if one day an angel wouldn't swoop down and vanquish him. But there was an upside to it as well.

"Do you think this means that there are other people who look like I do?" Kurt asked. He'd always assumed that he was the only one and since no one seemed to care, he'd never given his appearance much thought. He found he liked the idea; it wasn't always easy being so different than everyone else.

Lars shrugged. Kurt turned back to the vanquishing page and looked at it. Lars leaned over and pointed to the man in black. "That guy's a priest and he's using the cross to keep you from taking the…"

"That's not me!" Kurt interrupted. He hadn't meant to shout. Lars looked surprised.

"Actually, it is." Said a voice behind them. The two turned in their seats and saw Stephani standing behind them. Neither had heard him come in.

Kurt tried to think of something to say, but nothing came out. Lars shut the book guiltily and stared at Stephani.

"That's Mary's book." Stephani said. "She showed it to me too."

"We didn't steal it." Lars said defensively. "I was going to put it back."

Stephani circled around them and sat upon the table with his legs dangling. Kurt swiveled in his seat to face him. He finally found his voice, but it came out all quiet, like he couldn't get enough air into his lungs. "Did she say I was unholy to you too?" He asked.

"She said lots of things." Stephani said.

"Do you believe her?"

"I don't have to. I know the truth." Stephani crossed his arms over his chest.

"What truth?" Kurt asked.

"That you're not really my brother. That mom is not really your mom."

Kurt glanced at Lars who was sitting open mouthed and staring at Stephani. "I don't think any of this is real." Kurt said. "You're both making it all up."

Stephani shook his head. "No. It's true. I saw it."

"What did you see?" Kurt was leaning forward in his chair, once again perched up on the balls of his feet. He was gripping the edge of the seat so hard with his toes that his knuckles had gone pale.

Stephani began telling a story about stopping in a small town, a woman covered with blood crying in the street, and a house being boarded up and set on fire.

"Why did they put boards on the door?" Asked Kurt.

"To keep you in." Stephani said. "But mom ran into the house while it was burning and pulled you out. She almost died because of you."

Kurt shook his head. "If mom's not my real mom, then where are my parents?" He asked. He tried to sound calm, but inside he wanted to clamp his hands over Stephani's mouth to make him stop saying these things. He wanted Lars to take his stupid book and go. He felt like if he heard any more crazy stories about demons and fires he was going to explode.

"Dead." Stephani said. It was a like a heavy stone falling to the ground – final and followed by silence.

Behind him Kurt heard Lars gasp. "How did they die?" Lars asked, his voice nearly a whisper.

"Kurt killed them. That's why they were burning him in the house."

This was too much. Kurt launched himself out of the chair and knocked Stephani off the table. The two of them fell to the floor with Kurt pinning his older brother down. "You're lying." He screamed. "I didn't kill anyone. None of this is true."

Stephani grabbed Kurt's wrists and flipped him over so that now he was holding Kurt on the floor. "It is true. That's why you don't look like us." He said. Both of their voices had risen in volume so that they were shouting at each other. Kurt struggled to break free of Stephani's grip, but Stephani was larger and stronger than he was. Neither of them noticed Lars get up and run from the room.

"Let me up!" Kurt shouted. "You're a liar." He tried to squirm out from under Stephani, but he was held fast. He slapped his tail on the ground trying to gain leverage but nothing worked. He was crying, tears running down the sides of his face, his breath coming in ragged gasps. Stephani's story couldn't be true, he thought, it just couldn't. But then there was the horrible realization that if there were paintings of people who looked like him, perhaps it had happened before. What if the reason he had never seen anyone else like him was because they too had killed their parents and were punished for it. Maybe it was just a matter of time before they found him and burned him too. For a moment Kurt stopped crying and lay there with his chest heaving. He tried to sit up and Stephani pushed him back down.

Kurt resumed his struggle to break free of the grasp Stephani had on his wrists and the two boys grappled on the ground, a tangle of arms, legs and Kurt's tail. "Why won't you let me go?" Kurt cried.

"I don't want you to hurt me."

Kurt couldn't believe what he was hearing. What this really his brother? Why was Stephani being so mean? "I'm not going to hurt you. I just want you to let go!" He shouted and tried to slide his arm out of the hold Stephani had on him. He just wanted to be alone and hide away from everybody forever where there weren't any horrible books or stories about him killing people. But Stephani's grip on him seemed unbreakable. He craned his neck and sunk his teeth into the flesh of Stephani's forearm. Stephani screamed and pulled his arm away. Kurt slithered out from under his brother and jumped to his feet. He could taste blood and when he looked up he saw that Stephani's arm was bleeding.

"I'm sorry." He said. He'd forgotten how sharp his teeth were. And now he had hurt Stephani just like his brother had said he would. Kurt backed away in horror.

"Look what you did." Stephani said holding up his arm so Kurt could see four punctures with blood seeping out of them. Kurt ran to their makeshift kitchen area and grabbed a clean towel. He splashed water on it from the gallon jug they kept full.

"Put this on it." He said desperately. "I didn't mean to. I'm so sorry." He tried to press the damp towel against Stephani's bleeding arm. He wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand but they filled up again immediately. Stephani snatched the towel from Kurt's hands.

"Stay away from me!" He shouted and pushed Kurt down onto the floor. Kurt didn't try to rise this time. Instead he curled himself into a tight ball with his hands over his head. This was the worst day ever, he thought, sobbing on the floor. He was vaguely aware that he was supposed to be in the big tent with the Olsson's now; practicing for the new tumbling routine they were hoping to put into the show, but none of it seemed to matter anymore. It was all too much. It was like the whole world had been turned inside out.

"I've heard enough!" A voice boomed through the room, louder than a human voice should have been. Both boys turned and saw Margali standing in the doorway. She strode into the room. Kurt had never seen her look so angry. She stopped in front of Stephan, who was crying now too. She took his arm and looked at it. The bleeding had stopped; the cuts weren't as deep as they had first looked.

"It is not a good idea for you and I to be in the same place right now." She said, her voice calm and cold. "If I were you I'd go, before I do something we'll both regret. Go have Big Kurt clean that up. We'll talk later."

Stephani drew himself up and with last glance back at Kurt, hopped out of the van and closed the door. Margali turned to Kurt in time to see him vault into his bunk, the uppermost of three. If she stood on her tiptoes the bed was just a little below her eye level. Kurt had pushed himself into the furthest shadow making him nearly invisible. He had stopped crying and she could hear him making great hiccupping sobs from somewhere in the corner. She pulled a handkerchief out of a pocket and held it out. A moment later a small blue hand came out of the shadows and took it.

"Are you going to come down?" She asked. After a few moments a small "no" issued from the darkness. "Kurt, please come down. I can't talk to you if I can't see you." She reached her hand out and felt around. The first piece of Kurt she found was his tail, but he quickly withdrew it out of her reach. "Suit yourself" said Margali and walked to the other side of the room. She picked the book that had started everything off the floor and flipped through the pages. Then she went over to the pallet she slept on opposite her children and sat down. She leaned back against the wall and waited.

The only evidence that Kurt was still up there was the occasional sniffle, but after a few minutes Margali saw a pair of eyes followed by her youngest son's silhouette at the edge of the bunk. "Do you want to talk?" She asked. There was a long pause.

"Is it all true?" Kurt asked at last, his voice hoarse from crying.

Margali sighed. "If you come down here, I'll tell you what's true and what's not." She patted the mattress beside her. Kurt sighed and crept out of his bunk. He slid in beside her and Margali put her arms around him. She pressed her cheek against the top of his head, squeezing him tight. They held that pose while she listened to Kurt's sniffles coming at longer and longer intervals. Finally Margali loosened her hold and with one hand tried to smooth his hair, which was now sticking up in different directions. It was no use. She picked up the book and held it so Kurt could see the cover.

"Can you read it?" she asked. She knew Kurt could read German and French and she had even heard him speaking Swedish with the Olssons. The whole family was multi-lingual but Kurt was particularly was good with languages. For all she knew he'd picked up English too. Kurt shook his head.

Margali read the title aloud pointing at each word. "Angels and Demons: Religious Imagery in the Middle Ages and Pre-Renaissance." She said it first in English and then translated it into German. "It's a book about art, things that religious people painted from their imaginations."

"It's not real?"

Margali shook her head. "No. It's only real for the people who believe in it."

"Do you believe in it?" Kurt asked.

"No."

"So I'm not really a demon?"

Margali pulled Kurt closer. "Of course you aren't. I don't know why you look like you do, but it's what's on the inside that matters."

"Then I wish I looked like the angels instead." Kurt said. He could feel fresh tears running down his cheeks.

"We can't choose what we look like, only how we act. You act like an angel so to me you look like one. The people who made those pictures have been dead for thousands of years, they never got to meet you." Margali saw a momentary smile cross Kurt's face but he frowned again.

"What about the other things? The things that Stephani said about me?" he asked. Kurt furrowed his brow, "Are you not really my mom? Did I really kill people?"

Margali sighed and shook her head. "Stephani shouldn't have told you those things. Some of them are true and some are not." She could feel Kurt shaking as he started to cry again, but this time he stayed silent. "I'll tell you the true things, but you have to stop crying first." She handed him a fresh handkerchief. Kurt sat up straighter, wiped off his face, and blew his nose. He changed positions so that he was facing her, his face a mask of determination.

"Okay." He said. "I'm ready."

Margali told him the whole story. She had always planned on telling him when he was older. She figured Kurt would have enough to deal as a child with without having to doubt her love as his mother. She loved all of her children equally; it didn't matter to her how they had entered her life. The truth was that having a family of her own raised the way she thought they should be and without the stifling traditions of the Rom culture, was more important to her than anything in the world. And for the most part she'd gotten her wish.

It wasn't an easy story to tell. Margali first had to navigate the treacherous waters of childbirth and its complications. That was followed by a careful explanation of people and their superstitions. She described how everyone in the circus had pitched in, ripping the boards off the house and trying to put out the fire so they could get him out and she saw Kurt smile briefly when he learned that he was named after Big Kurt as the two were quite close. Her son was silent through the whole thing, but Margali watched understanding slowly dawn upon his face. When she was done speaking, the two of them sat in silence for a long time, as though they had disturbed something that hadn't been touched for years and were now waiting for the dust to settle back down.

"Can we go there someday? To that town?" Kurt asked.

Margali nodded. She could feel tears welling up in her eyes now. "If you like."

Kurt frowned. "But I still don't understand why people are afraid of me when I haven't done anything to them."

"There will always be people like that. It's complicated. Do you know that when I was growing up, I saw men jump away in fear when my mother walked past? Do you know why?"

Kurt shook his head.

"Because she was 'marmé', unclean. If a man is touched by a woman, he is polluted by her."

Kurt gasped. That's what Mary had said about him. "Why?"

Margali shrugged. "Because that's what their father's believed, and what their father's fathers believed. And just because it wasn't true didn't mean that my mother and all the other women in my tribe were feared by the men."

"Did she ever wish she was a man?" Kurt asked.

"Never. Because she knew that women are powerful, they can grow a life inside of them and that made them magical too. And so that's what she taught me. But that was after we were banished and sent away." Margali said.

"Your family sent you away? Forever?" Kurt asked in amazement. "Why?"

"My mother didn't believe in the men's traditions. She felt that she should be an equal and not hiding behind a long skirt, always walking behind the men so not to foul their air. There were places she could not go and rights she could never have. So one day, she fought back."

"What did she do?"

"Well, she went to her husband's, my father's chest and she took some of his clothes. Then she put them on. She took off her headscarf and let her hair down. Then she walked outside."

"Is that bad?"

"Bad?" Margali said and laughed. "It is a crime for a woman to take the clothes of a man. And when she announced that she should have equal rights and privileges as her husband and her brothers, people were outraged. All the men were very upset. It was very bad."

"I bet the women were happy though." Kurt said with a small smile.

Margali shook her head. "They weren't. These were very old traditions and they had become comfortable with them. And so the Rom Baro, the chief, called big meeting of all the men and they decided the she, her sisters, and her daughters were marmé."

"Unclean?"

"That's right. My mother's actions had shamed all the women in her family. And so the tribe sent us away."

"Didn't you miss them?" Kurt asked. He was leaning forward, captivated. He'd never heard his mother talk about her childhood. And to hear that people were frightened of her, just because she was a girl. It was hard to imagine.

"At first, but I had my mother and my sisters. After a while it was all I knew. It was a lot like us, there were four of us and we traveled all over Europe together." She smiled and brushed Kurt's hair out of his eyes.

"But if everybody believed it, wasn't it true? Like for the people who made those paintings. Wasn't it true for the men who made you go?" Kurt asked, suddenly concerned.

Margali couldn't figure out exactly where he was going with the question. She thought for a moment and then said, "In a way yes. But that didn't mean it was true for my mother."

"But she was still punished." Kurt pointed to himself. "If people believe that I'm unclean, doesn't it mean that I'll still be punished even if I don't think it's true?"

"Well," Margali started to speak and then paused. The answer was yes, of course. No matter what Kurt did, there would always be a portion of society that would refuse to accept him. But how could she tell him that. This too was a conversation she wanted to have when Kurt was older, not when he was eight. But Kurt continued questioning her.

"If I went into a church, would I still be punished by God because people believed in it? Because for them it's real?"

Margali hadn't expected the conversation to get this metaphysical and at this point it was past explanation. Her thoughts turned to the church she could see up on the hill a short walk from their encampment. It was a Tuesday evening; it would more than likely be empty. She got up and went to the old chest where their warm clothes were kept and opened the lid. She rummaged around, pushing aside sweaters and socks until she found Kurt's hooded coat and pulled it out.

"Where are we going?" Kurt asked. Margali always made him wear that coat whenever they left the circus grounds. She tossed it at him.

"We're going to church." She said.
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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by Rowena » Mon Apr 26, 2004 2:51 pm

This story is marvelous! I know you must be feeling very nervous about sharing it, especially if there have only been a few reviews, but please believe me when I tell you that this story if WONDERFUL! The way you incorperated Christian mythology and Rom traditions was brilliant, and I really love how you're delving into all the causes and reasons for movie Kurt's personality! This story drew me in so deeply that I was almost late for school this morning, and as soon as my first class was over I rushed over to the nearest computer lab to finish it! Now I'm going to be late for work if I don't run, but I just wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying your story so far! I can't wait to see what happens in the church! Are you planning to write out an explanation for Kurt's scars later on?

Oh, one thing I noticed: The possessive plural for FATHER'S is FATHERS'.

Brilliant story so far!!!!!!! :D
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei

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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by Maelstrom » Mon Apr 26, 2004 5:48 pm

Zamweasel,

I just now took a look at your work. And i like what I'm seeing. It's always fascinating to see someone else's take on Rom culture, and the kind of life someone like Kurt would have lead. You seem to have started a feud between Kurt and Stephan in early childhood, and I very much want to see how it will be resolved... or where it will lead.

I do have one question for you: your name! :LOL That is one of the most incredibly unique identities I've ever seen! Where did you get the idea for it?
Eagles may soar, but weasels never get sucked into the intake of a jet engine..... :evil

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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by Saint Kurt » Wed Apr 28, 2004 9:50 pm

I'd tell you where things end up with Stephani but that wouldn't be any fun. :)

Thanks for the encouragement. I'm trying not to post things too fast because of my weird writing style. I write stuff out of chronological order. There's an outline and then I usually write four or five stories simultaneously. But I have a lot of the early stuff finished which is why I thought I'd start posting it.

Zamweasel is a typo I made a while back while I was researching costumes. I'm in school, but I make costumes as a side job. I usually do a very elaborate one for myself every year - partly for fun and partly to showcase my skills. There's a character in the most recent Star Wars movie named Zam Wesell (the female bounty hunter). She has a really great costume and I was thinking of replicating it. While typing her name I accidently typed zamweasel. I thought it was hilarious and made it my screen name.

I ended up chosing to do Nightcrawler instead to show off my puppet building skills since they don't get very much attention. The tail is fully articulated and moves via hand controllers hidden in my gloves.

I have a break between finals so I thought I'd post one more. (I had my embryology lab final today. Crazy subject. Do you know that in a fetus the blood pumps through the heart backwards?!)

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Church

Post by Saint Kurt » Wed Apr 28, 2004 9:58 pm

"He doesnt really go with the décor."

Margali marched through the camp walking with such speed and purpose that Kurt nearly had to run to keep up with her. She was looking straight ahead, her mouth set in a tight-lipped frown, but Kurt glanced around, noticing that they were being watched. He stopped a moment, but a tug on his arm pulled him forward.

They didnt jump over the wall like Amanda had, but took the long way around to the gate. Kurt stopped and looked up at the church. He realized that they had been looking at the back of the building during their game. There were no colored windows on the front, only a large wooden double door. He hesitated, but Margali pulled him forward. They stopped at the door so Margali could tug on the giant handle. She pulled the door open and Kurt looked in.

It was enormous inside. The ceiling was nearly as high as the roof of their biggest tent and there were rows and rows of seats but not very much room for performers. It was very much like the circus, but different. Kurt wondered what went on inside of churches, besides people like him getting hit by lightening of course.

"Go ahead." Margali said. Kurt shook his head and hid behind her. "Nothing is going to happen.”

Kurt stood his ground so Margali picked him up and walked inside. He squeezed his eyes shut expecting the worst, but when nothing happened he opened them and looked around.

The light of the setting sun was glinting off the beveled panes of the stained glass windows and projecting rainbows on the floor while filling the space with a soft glow. They were in the middle of the nave and Kurt dropped to the floor and turned in a full circle. "Wow." He whispered. There was so much to look at; along with the colored windows there were statues and paintings and candles everywhere. "What do they do here?" He asked.

Margali felt a little out of her element. Shed never had much use for Christianity and she had even less use for it after she adopted Kurt. Then again, she didnt want to pass on her own bias to her son. "They worship God." She said.

"Why?"

" The people who built this church believe that God created the world and all of us on it. So they come here and thank Him." Or Her, she added silently with a smile. They took a few steps forward. Kurts hood had fallen down but Margali didnt bother to fix it. They were alone.

"Is that God?" Kurt asked, pointing to the large wooden carving of Jesus on the cross that hung above the main altar.

"No. Thats supposed to be Gods son." Margali said.

"What happened to him?" Kurt asked, still walking towards the altar while looking in all directions.

"Um." Margali was really in over her head. "He said a lot of things that people didnt like. So they killed him."

Kurt scratched his head. "But he looks like one of the angels only without wings. I thought the angels were good."

"He was good. But there were some people who disagreed with him so what he looked like didnt matter to them. See? It can go both ways."

Kurt knitted his brow and looked around. "Is there a picture of God here then?" he asked.

"No." Margali said, "just His son."

"Why."

Margali sighed. "Because they dont know what God looks like I guess." She said.

"So how do they know Hes really there?" Kurt asked.

Margali was trying to formulate an answer when a voice from above her said, "Now that, young man, is a very good question." Margali felt like her insides had melted. They were not alone, and now there was nowhere to go, nothing she could do. She jerked Kurts hood up, ignoring his "ow!" and looked around for the origin of the voice. She couldnt believe this was happening. How much worse could this day get? All that time she had spent telling Kurt he had nothing to fear was going to be ruined forever by some religious nut who more than likely was going to take one look at him and run them off the property. Holding Kurt against her, Margali looked up at the crucifix. Well, she thought, if not here, where else. Please, she intoned silently, if youre really there, God please make this work out.

"Over here." The voice said. Margali turned and saw a priest walking down the aisle towards them. She pushed Kurt behind her long skirts and stood facing him. "You were doing pretty well," he said with a smile, "but definitely cutting in on my territory." He stopped before them, his smile slowly melting into a look of confusion. "I didnt mean to scare you." He said.

Margali realized she must have looked like a deer in the headlights. She quickly closed her open mouth and straightened herself. "Its okay." She said. "We didnt mean to bother you. Well just go." She turned carefully, sliding sideways past him, and trying to maneuver Kurt in such a way that he stayed out of sight.

"Miss?"

Margali looked back over her shoulder.

"You and your son may stay if you like. Everyone is welcome." He was smiling again, but a look of concern crossed face. "Is something the matter?" He asked.

"I want to stay." Kurt whispered.

"No. “ Margali said, a little more sharply than she wanted to. She looked back at the priest. "Its probably best that we go." Giving Kurt a small shove forward she started towards the door.

"You should never be ashamed of those you love."

"What?" Margali spun around, nearly knocking Kurt over.

"Your child. What is it about him that frightens you?" Margali bristled at the question, but she could see compassion in the mans eyes. He wasnt at all like any of the other priests shed ever encountered. He was younger than most, with only a few grey hairs at his temples. And he was smiling, friendly. Margalis few encounters with men of the cloth had involved the persecution and distain, not smiling and telling them to stay. Shed made a point to steer clear.

"He doesnt frighten me. Its just that, he looks a little…unconventional." Margali finished after a pause that felt too long. The priest looked puzzled. "He doesnt really go with the décor." She said, gesturing around the church.

The priest shrugged. "I wasnt aware of any rules about matching the architecture." He said and then smiled again. "Ill have to call the archdiocese and ask them about it."

Margali sighed and looked down at Kurt, who was now hanging back on his own. It seemed that there was nothing she could say to convince this priest to let them go and simply grabbing Kurt and running out would have conveyed the wrong message. She would just have to trust the man. "Its okay." She said. Kurt peeked his head around and looked up at the priest, his hood falling back as he did so. Margali didnt bother to fix it.

"Nightcrawler." The priest said. There was a long silent pause. "I saw your performance two nights ago. Priests do go out sometimes." He added as though in answer to their expressions of shock. He looked down at Kurt and smiled. "Youre a very talented young man."

Kurt looked away. He was never shy when performing, but he had never spoken to anyone outside of the circus fold. "Thank you." He said in barely audible voice.

The priest knelt down and with a finger on his chin gently turned Kurts face to face his. "Its okay to be different you know." He gestured at the Crucifix, "That man lived thousands of years ago. He was different and thats why we remember him."

"How was he different?" Kurt asked, his curiosity getting the better of him. He stepped out from behind Margalis skirts.

The priest looked up at Margali. "May I? Im not sure where your beliefs lie."

Margali shrugged. Why not?


The sun was no longer casting colored beams on the floor as Margali wandered up the aisle for what seemed like the thousandth time. She glanced over her shoulder at the pew on which Kurt and Father Dietrich, as he had introduced himself, were sitting. Kurt had shed his coat and was perched on the balls of his feet the way he always did when he was interested in something.

She caught snippets of the conversation; how Jesus was born, the miracles he performed, and finally how he died. Father Dietrich was a good storyteller and very patient, answering each of Kurts questions in turn. It was strange, she thought, that the first real contact her son had had with anyone outside the circus was taking place in a church, but she shrugged. It seemed fitting somehow. Kurt never did anything in a straight line.

It gave her time to think about what she was going to do about Stephani. Her eldest had never seemed satisfied with their wandering existence. He always talked about homes that couldnt be picked up and moved in an hour and school. He was like his father that way, he had wanted her to stay with him in Italy rather than join her travels. In the end, they broke it off and the only ember of their love that remained was her sons Italianized version her own fathers name.

But his treatment of Kurt had shocked her. Was it jealousy of Kurts natural adaptation to performing that made him want to hurt his brother so? She couldnt find an answer, not without talking to Stephani first. It was not a conversation she looked forward to.

Father Dietrich stood up and straightened his collar. "Im sure your mother has been waiting long enough. If you have any more questions, you can always come back." He said. Margali stopped her aimless wandering and started toward them.

"Mom!" Kurt shouted and leapt over the back of the pew. Father Dietrich caught him by the shoulder.

"Never do that." He admonished. "This is a church. You must move with reverence and respect when you visit."

Margali almost laughed when she saw how dark his ears and cheeks got. The fact that her youngest blushed purple never failed to amuse her. He looked down at the floor.

"Im sorry." He said.

"Its okay. You didnt know. Now you do." Father Dietrich said. "You have a fine son. You must be a good mother." He said to Margali.

"I try." She said, feeling herself start to blush. She picked Kurts discarded coat off the pew and held it out to him. Was this priest flirting with her? Or was it just the way he talked to everyone. She found herself rather scandalously wishing he wasnt a priest.

She took Kurts hand and they said their goodbyes. Father Dietrich invited them back whenever they wanted to visit and Kurt promised he would. They walked back in the dark; Kurt easily picking out the path with eyes that didnt seem to need as much light as everyone elses.

Back in the familiar confines of their camp Kurt took his coat off and stopped briefly to watch Mary pulling a large suitcase from her trailer.

"Is she leaving because of me?" Kurt asked.

Margali shook her head. "Shes leaving because of herself. Shes fired, shes not the cook anymore."

Kurt made a silent "oh" with his mouth and they made their way to their trailer. It was empty inside and still dark; none of their lanterns had been lit. She struck a match and the space was quickly filled with the warm orange glow of oil lamps. Kurt sat down at the table and started to nod off so Margali hauled him to his feet and helped him get ready for bed. She was just pulling the blankets over him when Kurt sat bolt upright.

"Im supposed to be performing!" he said, suddenly panicked.

"Its okay. Youre having a night off. Every performer has to have one from time to time, even you." Margali said. She wasnt sure where Kurts work ethic came from, but he never missed a performance or a practice session.

"But Father Dietrich said that performing was Gods plan for me and that if I want to make God happy I should keep doing it. I have to go." Kurt insisted.

"I dont think Father Dietrich meant that you have to do it every minute of the day. He was telling you to keep being who you are. But that doesnt mean that if youve had a hard day you cant take a break. Trust me."

"But…"

Margali put a hand up to silence him. "The show is almost over anyways. You can go on tomorrow if youre so worried about it." She said.

Kurt yawned despite himself. He really was tired. He laid back down and let Margali tuck him in, something she hadnt done in years. "What are you going to do to Stephani?" he asked, his eyes starting to close.

"Im going to talk to him." Said Margali. She opened her mouth to say more, but was interrupted by the sound of Kurts snores before she could say anything.

The show was just ending when Margali got to the big tent. She peaked around the canvas flaps from backstage and watched. She caught Stephanis eye as he walked past her with a piece of equipment and he looked away quickly. The audience didnt seem to notice that anything was missing from the show. When the Olssons took their bow she saw that Lars was wearing Kurts costume, apparently playing his part that night.

Stephani feigned involvement in the after show clean-up effort, but Margali fixed him with a stare and beckoned him over. He put down the broom he was using to sweep wrappers and debris off the bleachers into the bag Amanda was holding. He glanced at his sister and she shrugged and looked away. Apparently either Lars or Stephani had clued her in to the afternoons events.

They sat down on the edge of the bleachers.

"I know youre mad. And I know what I did was wrong." Stephani began what sounded like a speech rehearsed over and over in his head.

"I just want to know why." Margali said.

"Its not fair. I want to go away to school. I dont belong here. Kurt does." Stephani said.

"And so out of jealousy you decided to tell your brother things you had no right to say?"

Stephani shook his head. "I was trying to get your attention."

Margali took a deep breath. "Well, now you have it."

"All summer Ive asked to go to a real school and you dont listen. Kurt performs, youre teaching Amanda how to tell fortunes, but I dont want to stay with the circus. I want to go to school like a regular kid."

"But, Ive told you, we move around too much."

"There are other ways though. But since its not what you want, you just say ‘no’ like it doesnt matter."

"What other ways?"

"I could go to a boarding school. I could live at school and then come with you on the holidays." Stephan said.

Margali shook her head. "Youre too young."

"Im not. Im twelve. Thats not too young. Ive talked to kids in the audience sometimes. There are lots of schools where I could go. Kurts only eight and he performs. Why cant I go to school?"

Margali sighed. Maybe Stephani had a point. She had brushed off Stephanis regular requests because they didnt fit in with her plan for him. Shed hoped hed find his niche in the circus if she just gave him more time. Maybe he would never fit it, perhaps it just wasnt in his nature. "I dont want to reward your actions by saying yes." She said slowly. "But, I dont want to keep you from going if its that important to you."

Stephani nodded and Margali continued. "So, you will travel with us the rest of the summer. Meanwhile I will find out about schools in Europe that might enroll you. If…" She paused while Stephani made a triumphant gesture. "And only if", she repeated, "If you can pass their entrance exams and they agree to accept you. But you have to earn it. You dug a really big hole for yourself today. Its going to take you awhile to fill it back up." Margali sat back, thinking of Father Dietrich calling her a good mother. Would he have said that if he knew the chaos that had brought them to his church in the first place?

"I know."

"And you have to apologize to your brother, but not now. I dont want it to be because I made you. Youll have to do it when you decide because I want it to come from you."

Stephani nodded. "Is Kurt okay?" He asked.

"Hes fine. Hows your arm?"

Stephani held his arm up. "It doesnt even hurt anymore." He said, "Where did you guys go?"

"To a church." Margali said.

Stephani looked confused. "Why?" he asked.

"Ask Kurt when you apologize to him." She said.

Stephani nodded and after a moment of hesitation slid on the bench and put his arms around his mother. She pulled him the rest of the way over and squeezed him the same way she had squeezed Kurt so many hours ago. Margali smiled to herself, maybe she wasnt such a bad mother after all.
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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by Saint Kurt » Fri Apr 30, 2004 2:49 am

Ha! I came up with a name.

Actually Rowena gave me the idea when she asked about whether or not the scars on Nightcrawler's face are explained. Without giving too much away, as the story progresses the scars and their meaning become very important.

Then again, sometimes even when I think I'm being blindingly obvious, it's too subtle. Did anyone notice that they paint an "X" on the door of Kurt's house in the beginning?

So now it has a title... Huzzah.

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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by Lauren » Fri Apr 30, 2004 11:52 am

I really like how this story is going so far! the last one made me cry a little *sniffle* write more soon!
"I am known as Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gombigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andri Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III. Don't hesitate to call." -Vash the Stampede


"No, you see I'm blind in my right eye now... So boring. You know what really makes me pissy? Grunge, Heroine chic, and dying are over. I so hate being behind the curve. Tourism's up." Brett(Alan Cumming) from Urbania

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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by Saint Kurt » Fri Apr 30, 2004 5:13 pm

I made someone cry? Wow. The only time I've ever been able to make someone cry was by singing.

And I don't think they were tears of joy... Thanks.

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Baptism by Water

Post by Saint Kurt » Fri Apr 30, 2004 5:20 pm

"The bible tells us of miracles and are not miracles the manifestation of strange and unusual powers?"

Kurt didnt perform the next night or the night after that. Instead he went into hiding. He stayed in his bunk, only climbing down out of the shadows when everyone had left the van for the day. Then he scavenged in their food box for breakfast, put on his hooded overcoat and walked back to the church to talk to Father Dietrich.

He liked Father Dietrich. He liked his stories and the way he talked. It made him wonder if he spent all day in a church if he wouldnt talk the same way. Father Dietrich told him all the stories that the colored windows showed and even let him bang on the keys of the organ once. It was fantastic and when Father Dietrich showed him how the noise came from a giant room full of pipes it was even more so.

Since no one bothered him about not performing, he didnt tell anyone that as interesting as his days were, he was starting to miss it. It was strange watching Lars playing his part. He was very good, but Lars didnt look like him or move like he did. Lars didn’t have a tail.

Kurt finally understood why whenever he performed he had to play some kind of magical character. He looked like those demon pictures, but he wasnt one. But while performing, he could act like one. Kurt was starting to realize that looking bad and being bad were two different things. And that meant that while Lars could act like him acting like a demon, Kurt could actually be one, even if it was only for an hour or two each night.

The next day Sven found Kurt sitting on the bottom row of the bleachers dressed and ready for practice. He sat down next to him.

"I heard what happened." Sven said.

Kurt put his chin on his knees and stared straight ahead, saying nothing.

"We could change the show." Sven said. "Make your part different."

Kurt shook his head. "No. I can play it better now." He said.

Sven laughed and mussed up Kurt’s hair. "Spoken like a true performer." He stood up. "So, are you going to practice or just sit there?"

Kurt jumped to attention. "Practice!" He shouted before racing up the rope to join Lars and the others on the platform.



Margali was surprised to find their trailer empty since Kurt had been hiding in there on and off for the last few days. Actually, she had no idea what Kurt was doing, only what he wasn’t. She knew he was not rehearsing or performing. She also knew he wasn’t spending the whole day inside the van since she occasionally noticed that both he and his coat were missing at the same time. She assumed he was sleeping and eating though she had to admit she hadn’t seen it happening. Margali shrugged and sat down. Appearances aside, there was nothing "normal" about Kurt. He did things his own way.

There was a knock on the door. It was rare anyone actually knocked in the circus. If the door was closed, it meant you didn’t want to be disturbed; if it was open, then it was as good as an invitation. She had left the sliding lorry door open.

"Yes." Margali said, trying to crane around and see who was at the door.

"Can I come in?" It was a man’s voice. Margali stood up. Father Dietrich was at the door.

"Oh," she said, slightly surprised, "Yes." She pulled the door the rest of the way open. Father Dietrich stepped in and looked around, smiling. Margali was starting to wonder if he ever frowned.

"Truly amazing." He said, taking in their bunks, the tapestries she’d hung to cover the ugly metal walls, the table she’d bolted to the floor. "It’s like something from a storybook."

"Except that it’s real." Margali said, not sure how to take his comment.

"I mean it’s wonderful. To live like this, where the family is important rather than television or the latest gadget. I can see where Kurt gets his…"

"Kurt?" Margali interrupted.

"Well, he’s been coming to visit me. Everyday. I assumed you knew."

Margali put her hand to her forehead and then sat down at the table. "I’m sorry." She said. "I’ll tell him to stop." Where did Kurt get his tenaciousness she wondered, had she been this intense at eight?

Father Dietrich sat down across from her and took her hand. "You misunderstand me. I don’t mind. Actually, I come with a request, on Kurt’s behalf. Tea?"

The father’s last question broke Margali from her reverie. What was going on? Three days ago she’d found her eldest son calling her youngest a demon. Then they went to church and instead of being chased out, were welcomed. Suddenly Kurt was asking priests to do favors for him? And now she was being asked to make tea? She stood up, slightly unsettled. "What kind do you want?" She asked.

Father Dietrich laughed. "Actually, I was offering to make tea for you. You have quite a collection." He said, gesturing at the small pile of tins sitting on their makeshift cupboard. He stood up and gently put a hand on Margali’s shoulder, lowering her back to her seat. He spent a moment looking for matches, and then, upon finding them lit the small kerosene stove and placed the kettle on top.

"The cups are below." Margali said, pointing. Father Dietrich made a small "ah" as he found them and selected two. He looked at the rows of tins for a moment.

"I’m afraid I’m at a loss." He said, "I’m more of a coffee drinker."

Margali leaned over and pulled a yellow tin of fine Indian tea from the middle of the stack. "This is my favorite for drinking." She said.

"Drinking?"

Margali shrugged. "I work as a fortune teller. Most of them are for the leaves." She said.

The priest gave a look of instant understanding. The kettle was whistling so he pulled it off the stove and poured water into the cups that Margali had spooned tea into and sat down. Margali stared into her swirling tealeaves as she watched the water darken. Strange that she had spent so many hours telling others the direction their lives would take by looking into those waters and yet her own family’s remained a mystery.

"Kurt wants to be baptized."

Margali looked up, "He…" But she didn’t finish the sentence.

Father Dietrich continued, "If I was a better Catholic I suppose I would have granted his request without question; another opportunity to save a soul from eternal damnation." He laughed. "However, since he is your child I felt I should come to you first."

Margali wasn’t sure how to answer. She could have asked why or perhaps even how. Instead, for the second time that week Margali found herself recounting the day when, a little over eight years ago she had saved Kurt from that burning house. This time, she included the one detail she had left out of Kurt’s version, the final encounter with the priest who had been orchestrating the murder.

Father Dietrich’s eyes were downcast when she finished and for the first time Margali was aware that, no, he did not always smile. He shook his head sadly. "I’m sorry that happened." He said with a deep sigh, "There are those who say that these people being born with mutations are abominations, that they go against God. I don’t understand it. The bible tells us of miracles and are not miracles the manifestation of strange and unusual powers? I don’t understand how Kurt’s abilities can be seen as anything but God’s work. And his appearance, is it not the most important message of all? Not to judge with your eyes, but with your heart and your faith." Father Dietrich paused, staring into the swirling remains of his tea. "But I understand why you would say no."

"I’m not saying no." Margali said. "I don’t know why I told you that story. Maybe I just wanted you to understand."

Father Dietrich slid his cup across the table. "What do you see?" he asked.

Margali smiled. "As every good fortune teller knows, our destinies can’t be determined by a cup of tea. Kurt was having a very bad day, he met you and you were kind to him. It doesn’t surprise me that he would want to do what you ask."

"But I didn’t ask. I never even mentioned the possibility. He came to me." Father Dietrich said.

The tealeaves in Father Dietrich’s cup were settling to the bottom. Margali watched them in silence. "How would you do it?" She asked.

"Normally baptisms are performed during mass, but for obvious reasons I think for Kurt’s sake, it should be more private." Father Dietrich said. "I thought perhaps after mass on Sunday."

"If it doesn’t interfere with the performance schedule." Margali said. Planning Kurt’s baptism was the last thing in the world she ever thought she would be doing. In fact if a day earlier her tealeaves had foretold such an event, she would have given up fortunetelling as a true and utter scam. And yet, her she was.

***

It was to be their last performance before moving on. Normally, on weekends when they played twice a day, the hours between shows were spent resting. Circus performance was in many ways more grueling than any other form of theater. For the audience to be properly amazed, they tested the limits of their strength and abilities anew every time.

However, after their Sunday afternoon show, everybody changed from their costumes into their nicest clothes and followed the path out of their camp to the church that had overlooked their home for the last week and a half.

Father Dietrich had arranged everything. He wanted to the church empty so he made sure to clear the place out after mass that morning. He could still smell the incense in the air. He decided to perform a second, shorter mass so that any Catholics in the circus could take communion and confess if they wanted. It was a lot of work, but he liked Kurt and during their long talks he imagined that the boy was exactly what a Christian should be. He was generous and kind, and because of his upbringing, completely naïve to so many of society’s worse aspects. He would learn about them someday no doubt, but in the meantime Father Dietrich would show him how to show his love to god in the hopes that when that day came, god would stand watch over Kurt. It seemed farfetched, but it was what Father Dietrich believed.

The service was short and afterwards they gathered on the rectory lawn for a light lunch prepared by the church’s woman’s guild. Out in the bright sunshine it was hard to imagine that in less than an hour they would have to change back into their costumes and perform again. Kurt, who normally liked to be in the middle of the action sat slightly apart, perched on the lowest branch of a tree. It didn’t seem right to go jumping around making jokes when you’d just been baptized.

He looked down and saw Stephani standing below. Kurt slid over on the branch and put a hand down to help Stephani climb up. Stephani sat on the branch with his back against the tree trunk. The two of them said nothing for several minutes.

"Father Dietrich is nice." Stephani said at last, more to fill up the silence than anything else. He and Kurt hadn’t spoken since that day in the trailer.

"He is." Kurt agreed.

There was more silence. Stephani pulled at a few leaves, shredding them in his hands. "Did you do this because of me? Getting Baptized I mean." Stephani asked.

Kurt shook his head. "I did it because I wanted to." He said. "It just seemed like the right thing to do."

"I thought maybe it was because…" Stephani paused while he brushed the leaf bits out of his hands. "I thought it was maybe because of what I told you."

"In a way it was. Mom told me all the stuff that happened when she found me and it made me think about how lucky I was."

"Lucky?" Stephani asked. "How is that lucky?"

"Well, if the circus hadn’t driven by my house, I wouldn’t be alive. So maybe God wanted me here. And maybe, it was a circus and not something else because then I could be an acrobat. That means that God wanted me to look like this, because it makes me a really good acrobat." Kurt shrugged. "I just thought I should thank Him, that’s all."

Stephani laughed. "I hadn’t thought of it that way."

"Neither had I. But it kind of makes sense doesn’t it." Kurt said, gesturing at himself.

"That’s what you’ve been doing all week, thinking about why God made you look like you do?"

"Pretty much." Kurt said. "So I guess I should thank you too."

"Why? I was horrible to you." Stephani felt his face flush remembering the things he said to his brother.

"Yeah, but I did wonder sometimes why I looked different. Why I was the only one with a tail. Now I know and it’s because of you that I found out."

"I used to wish I looked like you." Stephani said suddenly.

Kurt looked surprised. "Really? Why?"

"Because everyone liked you and you could do all these things that no one else could do. I felt like I didn’t fit in and you did so perfectly. It must seem silly to you, especially now."

Kurt shook his head. "No. I always liked the way I looked too."

Stephani wasn’t sure whether to laugh or start crying. The whole week he’d dreaded this moment. He’d expected Kurt to be angry with him, to scream at him. But instead they were having this quiet conversation on a tree branch. It wasn’t what he expected at all. "I’m really sorry Kurt." He said at last.

"It’s okay, I’ve already forgiven you." Kurt said.

"You have?" Stephani asked.

"Well, you’ve always been a really good brother. So, when I thought about that, it didn’t seem right that I should be angry with you over just one thing. Do you really think you don’t fit in?"

Stephani sighed. "Yeah. There doesn’t seem to be anything I’m really good at, anything I really want to do."

Kurt nodded in empathy.

"That’s why I was so mean to you." Stephani admitted. "I thought maybe I could make you run away so mom would notice me and do what I wanted."

Kurt furrowed his brow. "What do you think you would be good at?" He asked.

Stephani shrugged. "I want to go to a real school." He said. "I just want to learn stuff that’s all. Things I can’t learn here."

"But that would mean you’d have to leave wouldn’t it?"

"Yeah. But I would come back during the summer." Stephani said.

"I’d miss you. But I don’t think you should stay here if you don’t think it’s right for you. Maybe you could tell me all the things you learned at school when you come back." Kurt said, brightening at the idea.

"If mom lets me go. She’s mad at me because of what happened."

It looked like everybody was getting up to leave. It was time to get ready for their evening performance. Kurt stood up, balancing on the branch without a waver. "We should go." He said. "I’ll make sure mom lets you go to school."

Kurt let Stephani hold onto his tail for balance while he climbed down and then swung down from the branch himself. Together they started down the hill to where the tent and that night’s performance waited. They had been the last to leave so they jogged most of the way until they caught up.

Father Dietrich watched them go, amazed by the conversation he’d just overheard. He hadn’t meant to eavesdrop; his intention had been to give Kurt a gift. It didn’t matter though. He had planned to see them off in the morning anyway. It had certainly been an interesting week. There was one thing he was sure of though and that was that baptizing the boy who looked like a demon was the right thing to do; it secured Kurt’s place in heaven with the angels where he truly belonged.


Kurt didn’t want to leave the next morning. The roustabouts had struck most of the main tent overnight and now were packing the loose odds and ends into the last truck. He sat in the doorway of their van, listlessly watching them. It was the first time Kurt ever wished they weren’t always moving around. He’d never had a friend who didn’t already travel with them. He’d never known the pain of leaving someone behind until today.

He was considering running back to the church one last time just to say goodbye and to thank Father Dietrich for yesterday when he saw a familiar figure walking towards him. Kurt jumped up and waved.

"Father Dietrich!" They met on the path and walked back to Margali’s trailer. "I was going to come up and say goodbye." Kurt said returning to his seat in the truck’s door.

Father Dietrich smiled and sat down next to him. "Well, I came down instead. I wanted to give you something." He handed Kurt a small plain box. "These are for you." He said.

Kurt slowly opened the box and gasped. He lifted out the bible and rosary that were inside.

"Your mother said you could read German." Father Dietrich said. Kurt nodded affirmatively. "And this rosary belonged to my grandmother. It was my gift to her when her hands became too weak to hold her old one. Now she’s gone so I wanted you to have it. The beads are large, I thought it would be easier for you because of your…" Father Dietrich paused, slightly shocked that after the events of this week it made him uncomfortable to talk about Kurt’s hands.

"Because of my fingers." Kurt finished. "It’s perfect. I’ll carry it always." He said. He slipped it into his pocket as though he couldn’t wait to begin.

"Inside the bible is my address." Father Dietrich said. "You can write me whenever you like."

Kurt opened it and looked at the inside cover. Written in neat script it read, "Never forget that your uniqueness is God’s gift to you. However you chose to use it is how you will love and serve Him best. – Your friend, Hans Dietrich" Below it was the church’s address.

"Saying ‘thank you’ doesn’t seem like enough." Kurt said.

"It’s plenty." Father Dietrich said. "Use them well." He stood up. "It looks like it’s time for you to go."

Kurt looked around the bare earth where their tent had equipment had stood and nodded. He was still watching Father Dietrich’s retreating silhouette when Margali got in the truck and started it. Stephani and Amanda joined them and took up their usual positions on the floor cushions, preparing for the drive ahead. Kurt sat down next to them and thumbed through the pages on his new bible, already looking forward to next summer when they would come back again.


Authors Note: Do you have any idea how hard it is to convincingly write an eight year old having a religious epiphany? Nightcrawlers faith is a very important part of the character though so I hope I did it justice.

On another note, Im not Catholic. In fact Im Jewish and I know very little about Christianity. Ive done my best to research everything before writing, but if Ive got something terribly wrong, I dont mean to offend I simply dont know any better.
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Post by theindigojester » Fri Apr 30, 2004 7:13 pm

Great job with the story! I can see how it would be hard to portray an eight year old gaining a great understanding of religion, but I think you handled it very well. I love the character of Father Dietrich and how he was so kind to Kurt. I know a few priests who would behave like that as well.

For not being Catholic, you portrayed the religion fairly well. I myself am Catholic and I do have one side note however, if Kurt was going to be baptized he would have to participate in a program to learn more about the religion since he was not a baby and could make this decision himself. Depending on the church it can take anywhere from eight weeks to two years. And since he was eight he would most likely have been Confirmed at the same time he was baptized. In case you don't know, Confirmation is sort of the next step in being Catholic. Instead of being a baby and not really knowing what is going on you are old enough to make a choice to be commited to your faith and to serve God to the best of your ability. I can see how an exception would have been made in Kurt's case however. Being with the circus and all. I don't know if that made any sense or if it was all that important to share, but anyway...

Thank you for writing this wonderful story. Keep up the good work!
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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by RavEnigma » Fri Apr 30, 2004 11:12 pm

You were......amazing. Simply amazing. As a closet Catholic (my family is Lutheran and Southern Baptist, so I can't be as open as I'd like), I can understand why Kurt would make his decison to become baptized. Padre Deitrich is a fantastic character! Keep up the fantastic work!
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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by SheCat » Sat May 01, 2004 2:30 am

Hey zam, I'm glad I finally got around to reading this. It's really quite excellent! I'm in awe of your detail and the way you can write children...God knows I can't write kids...but this is just great.

I'm sorry about your cat, by the way. We just lost one of ours. :cry At least Rufus had a long, good life. Remember that.
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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Sun May 02, 2004 2:26 am

I absolutely love your stories Zam. It seems to me you have many Talents. It truely does give a valid explanation for how Kurt behaved in X2, it is a very movig story. It brought both tears of sadness and joy:*)

Sorry about your cat. :( But may he rest in devine peace, and may ypu always remember the good times you spent together.:*)
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Even Angels have Scars -- Complete

Post by Saint Kurt » Sun May 02, 2004 5:16 am

I'm not the only one who misses Rufus. My other cat, Musashi has been driving me crazy. I think he's bored without his buddy so I'm on the look out for a new kitten. I've been thinking Logan is a good name for a cat since cats have retractable claws. (Musashi is named after Miamoto Musashi, Japan's most famous samurai so the Logan thing kind of fits the pattern...sort of.)

As for the baptism/confirmation thing: It was my choice not to have them occur at once even though they could have. It was more as a plot point than anything else - I wanted to show a lasting relationship between Kurt and Father Dietrich so his confirmation happens two years later. I didn't write about it happening, but it gets mentioned in one of the later stories. I'm glad I got it mostly right though.

As for writing kids, that's been one of the biggest challengest I've had with this since the characters grow up throughout the stories. It's a lot to keep track of.

I'm so glad to see that people like this. I wasn't sure if people would since it's such a departure from anything I've seen here. Thanks so much for your praise. I'm still having trouble believing that I've made people cry without having sung a note...

I will now post the shortest thing I've ever written.

-e
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