Family of Choice

Pairing: Erik Lehnsherr/Charles Xavier
Category: AU, canon divergence, children, first crush, first meeting
Rating: PG
Summary: Five years after Logan brought Kurt to the school, Kurt has settled in nicely. His world tilts a little the first time he sees the newest addition to their family. And he doesn't quite know why. But it's not a bad feeling.
♦ Fic-A-Week Project 2014 - Week 45
♦ Xavier's School for Little Mutants Part 2
Notes: Time stamp story five years down the line from "Love makes a family". This is set in the same timeline as Days of Future Past, but deviates from that storyline - obviously ;)
Word count: 1,399

Kurt is is eleven years old when he falls in love the first time.

He's settled into the school well since he arrived five years ago. His uncle Charles has the patience of a saint, and between him, uncle Erik and the other children, his English isn't too bad these days. He still occasionally speaks German with Erik, because he knows what Erik means when he says that they both need to remember their pasts, and their languages are part of this. He's even told Kurt one night, when they were talking, that he regrets that his Polish has become a little rusty from disuse.

Sometimes Kurt just needs to fall back onto a language where he knows the nuances. Sometimes the others use figures of speech that lave Kurt wondering what they're talking about.

Sometimes uncle Erik or Kurt's mother, Raven, disappear. Mostly it's a few days, but sometimes it's weeks. And Kurt can tell how worried uncle Charles gets the longer they are away.

Sometimes uncle Erik comes back, a grim set to his mouth, eyes empty. He barely sees anyone, just goes directly to uncle Charles, wherever he is - and they stay locked up for hours after that. Mostly uncle Erik looks little better when they come back out.

When his mother comes back from her trips, her face never gives anything away, but often she kisses him on the cheek in greeting and holes up with Charles and Erik somewhere in the mansion.

No one really knows what his mother does when she leaves, but the older students tell him that uncle Erik goes out to find others of their kind. And the bad days are when he comes back alone.

However, one day, midsummer, on a nice warm afternoon, Erik comes back, this time not alone. Sometimes those who come home with him are older than Kurt, sometimes younger. Today Erik's returning with someone whose looks make Kurt's breath catch. She's tall and thin, in the way that Kurt is pretty sure isn't healthy. She's around his own age, maybe a year or two on either side. Her skin is dark, her hair white and her eyes the clearest blue that Kurt has ever seen. She disappears with Erik into Charles' office and Kurt wonders who she is, though he doesn't have the time to find out. He has afternoon lessons with Alex in the Danger Room that he is very much looking forward to.

At dinner she isn't there and Kurt wonders if she might've already left. He wants to ask, but he isn't sure if it's welcome.

'Never be afraid to ask, Kurt, you know this,' uncle Charles says softly in his head.

Kurt ducks his head and feels his cheeks flush without fully knowing why.

Charles clears his throat and everyone turns their attention to him - eventually. Their dinners are always noisy and happy and Kurt loves it. In the circus he was always forced to eat on his own because everyone found his appearance unsettling.

"I think the rumour mill has already done its work around here," Charles says drily.

Next to Kurt, his mother snorts. She hunches her shoulders, radiating mirth when Charles gives her a less than impressed look.

"We have a new guest, a young woman from Africa." Charles shares a look with Erik. "Erik met her in Cairo, Egypt. Please remember what we've talked about differences in culture when you speak with her," he quickly added.

Kurt smiles a little at this. They have learned the hard way that there are huge differences in interactions depending on where people come from. Shiro has proved that to them. Or maybe Erik was right when he'd commented that the boy had no sense of humour. This was when Charles had explained to them that of course Shiro had a sense of humour, but it wouldn't necessarily be the same as theirs - Japan wasn't the United States and then he'd spent the next half hour telling them about Japanese culture, warriors, codes of honour and more. Kurt, not being American himself, understands why Shiro keeps budding heads with the other children, though. Shiro just reacts when there is something he doesn't understand. Kurt tends to ask one of the adults to explain if there is something he doesn't get.

It doesn't always mean that he understands things afterwards. He's long since learned that asking Hank means hours and hours of explanations and charts if he isn't careful. Alex often leaves him wondering more and his uncles and mother aren't always available for him to ask.

"Her names is Ororo Munroe, and I'll leave her to share her gift with you if she so chooses," Charles says.

'I may need your help, Kurt,' he continues inside Kurt's head. 'She knows some English, but it would help her if she were to understand that she isn't the only child here who is at least bilingual. Not to mention your calm disposition would help as well'

Kurt flushes and is glad that his dark fur covers it up some. His tail even twitches and there is a nervous tick he hasn't had in ages.

"Is she going to be a student?" Petra asks, pausing her meal. She is only six and arrived at the school a few months earlier. She doesn't speak often, and Kurt quite often catches her sitting by herself, looking sad. Uncle Charles once told him, that Petra lost her family in an accident, when he'd asked him about her.

Charles takes a deep breath.

"It depends on if she wants to stay here," Erik says, sharing a look with Charles.

Charles nods. "Right now she needs rest and then she can make her choices." Like everyone else here, is left unsaid, but Kurt hopes she will choose to stay.

Kurt doesn't see their newest guest again until a few days later, when he is sitting in one of the trees, reading. Uncle Charles had considered it rather amusing that he'd choose a tree instead of a comfortable chair, or a blanket on the grass, but Kurt had explained to him that he quite enjoyed balancing on the branch while reading. Also, it offers more quiet than when he's among the other children.

He is so immersed in the book that he doesn't notice her at first. Then she clears her throat and he nearly falls out of the tree when he's startled and looks down at her. He can feel his tail slipping and gravity kicking in and a second later he's teleported himself down onto his feet on the grass next to her.

She gasps, but doesn't step away from him. She's still a little on the skinny side, like she hasn't had enough to eat. Kurt knows what it's like to go to bed hungry. It's one of the things from his time in the circus that still causes him nightmares and it's taken uncle Charles and his mother years to help him understand that at the school, he won't' have to go hungry. And never as a punishment.

"The professor said I could ask your help with the books." Her English is heavily accented, but it will smooth over time, Kurt knows from experience.

Kurt feels the swell of pride. There are several libraries in the school, and Kurt knows his way around them. He's devoured his fair share of books there - if nothing else, they've kept his mind busy at times of turmoil and they've definitely given him a better understanding of the English language.

He's a little proud that Charles has told Ororo that he can help her.

"I'd be happy to," he says, holding out his hand like a grownup, almost holding his breath, because next to her delicate hands, his look so clumsy and different. "I'm Kurt."

She smiles widely at him, her face transforming from the slightly apprehensive look to something that makes Kurt's heart skip a beat. "Ororo," she replies and shakes his hand. It's almost regretful when she lets go.

Much to the danger of Kurt's heart, when they start walking towards the library he thinks will have something that might interest her, she slips her hand into his and the smile never quite leaves her face. Maybe if he's really nice to her and shows her what a brilliant place the school can be... Maybe she'll stay.

The End