Takes One to Know One

Chapter 2

The sky overhead was gray, not quite dark enough to rain but enough to promise a dismal rest of the day. It was weather that had gotten stuck somewhere in between fair and foul and Todd grumbled at it, leaning forward over the jeep door to dig for his stuff.

He had only taken two boxes of stuff he thought worthwhile to take. Two. And somehow they’d fallen down into the well of the car underneath everyone else’s crap. He pulled his last one out and clambered down with it, and kicked the other one halfway to the front door before scooping that up beneath the other arm and going up to his assigned room.

He was not going to think about anything else tonight, not going to mess up any further. Maybe in the morning he could find something to fix the picture. Maybe after that, he could start to make things up to her.

Pietro could be heard from the next room over, getting his panties all in a twist about something. Todd ignored him tiredly and squeezed between the boxes in the hallway, trying to get to his door.

“Why can’t you just put him in the smaller room with Freddy?”

“Because he’s Freddy, and it’s the smaller room, dumbass,” Lance said.

Oh. One guess who they were talking about then. Lovely. Todd snorted in disgust and managed to shove the door open. It bounced against another box in the way and he nearly squished himself flat trying to get in. The walls proved to be paper-thin as Todd could hear them even clearer.

“I am totally not going share a room with stink-boy.”

“He’s going in someone’s room, so suck it up,” Lance said reasonably. Todd allowed himself a small grin. Good old Lance, always being fair. “But not mine,” Lance quickly added. Todd’s smile crashed.

“I have an idea. You share the big room with both of them and I get the small room.”

“Okay, well, here’s what I think of your idea.” There was a thwack and Pietro made a noise like a dying zebra.

"The fuck, Alvers!? I can’t even dodge you – the room’s crowded with all your shit!”

“That’s the whole point, moron!”

“I’m not sharing a small room with you either. You’ll probably molest me in my sleep or something,” Pietro snapped.

“Ugh. I’d sooner molest Toad, you hair-brained fag.”

“Shut up,” Todd muttered, feeling in his jeans pocket. He couldn’t find his knife. He growled and looked for a pair of scissors, a pen, anything to get through the stupid scotch tape.

“Yeah, I bet you would,” Pietro sneered. “Him and that nice long ton--”

There was a sudden thump and another squeal from Maximoff. Todd had stopped what he was doing to stare incredulously at the wall.

Ooookay. He took a breath and picked up the boxes again. Okay, screw this. He could find another place – it was a fucking mansion, right? There had to be a room away from Tweedle-DeeDeeDee and Tweedle-Dumbfuck, even if it was in the fucking attic. He’d find it.

Todd walked down the hallway, kicking boxes both full and otherwise out of his way and seething. All in all, a very dignified retreat from a conversation he had never wanted to hear in his life, right up until Kurt ported in front of him again.

Kurt apologized very sincerely once Todd was done yelling and trying to find something heavy to throw at his head. Even then, he helped the boy retrieve one his boxes from where it had tumbled down a flight of stairs.

The other was stuck in the chandelier. Todd was leaning out over the railing, trying to poke it loose with a broom because he was hardly going to try and snag something out of fancy glass and electrical wire with his tongue. Not with the way his luck was going lately.

“So what the hell do you want?” he asked crossly, after he’d caught the falling parcel and reeled it in.

“Bad day?” Kurt guessed. Todd looked at him flatly in answer. “Oh. Dumb question I guess, ja? Just wanted to know if you were hungry. Ororo put some stuff out for sandwiches.”

“Ain’t hungry,” he muttered, anger fizzling somewhat. Not that he sounded any nicer.

“Oh. Okay, well. Just an offer,” Kurt backed off. Todd made a face and sighed.

“Kurt, wait,” Todd faltered, before he could stop himself. Much to his surprise, fuzzbutt actually stopped and listened. “Uh. Yeah, you know where there’s another room in this joint?”

Kurt blinked. “I think so. But the Professor thought you’d want to all be in the same wing, so he had these cleared out for you guys –“

“Yo, I get it awright? Assigned rooms, people having to shuffle around, big fuck inconvenience. Story of our lives. So you got a room that won’t be missed or somethin’? I don’t care if it’s got nuthin’ but a broken chair in it, dawg. Anything. I just . . .”

Kurt was looking at him strangely. Todd sighed, miserable.

“I just need some space right now. Away from the stupid,” he admitted, motioning behind him with a violent shrug of his shoulder. It caused hair to fall in his face and he blew at it, annoyed. Kurt’s face softened a little.

“Well, I think I might know somewhere.”

And since Todd’s arms were occupied by his possessions, Kurt put a hand on his shoulder and both disappeared from the hallway.


“Holy batshit insanity,” Todd remarked, when he’d turned the lights on.

“I know. It’s a wreck,” Kurt apologized as he tried to weave around the junk. Tentatively, he placed one of Todd’s boxes on something that looked abstractedly like a desk having an orgy with several chairs and a bucket. “This room hasn’t been used since the, ah . . . Adhesive Incident. Everything Logan couldn’t break apart and salvage got shoved in here.”

“So it’s a storage room for Franken-furniture, huh? This is great. You sure it ain’t gonna be missed?”

Todd wandered around the room, grinning. He lifted a sheet covered with about eight layers of dust and poked a plastic stool. It spun aimlessly, adhered to an old record player, which in turn was stuck to a coffee table. He poked it again, bad mood forgotten. “Heh.”

“If you can make it work, go for it.” Kurt lifted another sheet and sneezed several times. “There’s the bed. Um, a bed. Sort of.”

“The mattress glued to it?”

“No, I don’t think so.” Kurt helped Todd lift it up. It was, by only one corner, pasted to the spring box and frame. The oaken frame was tilted at a seventy degree angle, due to a bookshelf stuck under the right side, complete with several National Geographic magazines stuck firmly open to the shelves and sides.

“Okay.” Todd said, after a moment of looking around. “Okay, I can make that work.”

He wriggled under the bed, lost to view. Kurt looked doubtful.

“Are you sure you don’t want to just . . . go upstairs and try to make peace?”

“Nope. This is much more better!” The left end of the bed lifted with a long straining creak until it was level with the bookshelf on the right. Todd gave a small grunt of effort, but sounded otherwise un-squished. “Now push over that shelf – the one with half a bicycle on it.”

Kurt, wondering just when he’d volunteered to get dragged in on this mad project, resigned himself to his fate and obliged. Several more items were dragged over to the bed (all of them sworn at heartily) and between the two of them pushing and pulling, and in Todd’s case becoming a human carjack, the bed evened out.

He went under once more as Kurt pushed in a chest of drawers with a desk lamp growing out of its side. After what seemed an eternity, Todd crawled back out with dustbunnies stuck to his hair and the smile of a madman etched on his face.

Kurt took an involuntary step backwards.

“Okay. I can’t get the lamp plugged in this side of the room. No worries, I can fix that. You still with me here, or you done?” Todd asked, looking at Kurt who knew what he was implying. Freedom from madness was only one step around the corner. He could run away, flee, live another day without back pain; he had liberty of making any excuse he wanted.

Strangely, Kurt found himself grinning instead.

“I’ve got nowhere else to be right now,” he admitted, cheerfully signing away his life with those rash words. Part of his brain wailed in terror. The rest was too curious to care.

Todd whooped and swung himself on top of the bed. “Awriiiight! I got me a house-elf!”

“Hey, watch it!” Kurt laughed in protest and climbed up after him.

Several hours later, they’d piled other furniture along the walls; with seemingly useless function as far as Kurt could see, other than clearing the floor. But now that everything was in place, he watched Todd settle into a different flurry of activity – making the separate mountains of balanced chaos actually useful for something.

Metal legs were kicked off the upside down chairs on the desk, flat boards and torn foam cushions placed over them to create a couch. The coffee table with the record player also lost its legs to the cause in order to become a reinforced swivel chair that Kurt guessed only someone as light as Todd could sit on. He was surprised when it held his own weight, knowing he had to be at least a few pounds heavier.

If Logan could see this place, Kurt thought, he would have a fucking cow at the level of destruction going on. Not that any of the furniture was salvageable to begin with, but . . . well, on the other hand, maybe he’d be impressed. Damn, but the boy could recycle. Kurt sneezed, sending the swivel chair the other way as Todd – barefoot - shook out the dusty sheets and started layering the mattress with them.

“We can get cleaner sheets, you know,” he called up to Todd. “And pillows too.”

“Yeah. Pillows,” Todd answered, in a distracted way. Looking for something, he hopped down to land on the sofa, which did wobble, and then to the ground. He frowned and kicked the desk lightly. “Gotta get some cinderblocks in ‘ere.”

Kurt found himself smirking, a little impressed himself. He’d never seen Todd give something this much focus. Except for maybe Wanda, and that time up in the mountains . . . that experience had certainly painted a different picture of Tolensky.

His stomach, quiet until now, decided to voice another opinion entirely.

Kurt put a hand over it and made a face. “Well I’m starving! What about you? You’ve been like Monster House on crack all afternoon. You have to be hungry.”

“I think . . . I’ll need a drill.” Tolensky paid the question no attention, staring instead at the pile of metal chair legs. “You guys got a drill, right?”

“Um . . . yyyyesss,” Kurt answered, aware he was venturing into dangerous waters. “Food,” he suggested again.

“A staple gun too,” Tolensky went on blithely.


“Maybe a couple more extension cords. Hey, you see another lamp anywhere?”

“Food,” Kurt insisted, growing a little Agitated.

“Oooh, a tire! I didn’t see this – maybe I could make a sw– OW!”

Kurt stared up scowling, armed with Todd’s other sneaker. “Food,” he threatened, arm drawn back. Todd glared, rubbing the back of his head. Kurt had remarkably good aim and it went unspoken he wouldn’t miss the second time either.

“Eh. Guess we could . . .” Todd muttered, looking suddenly miserable again. He jumped down to Kurt’s level and stood up. Wordlessly Kurt handed him his shoe and watched him hop around on one foot to retrieve the other. “Think the others have eaten already?”

There was a bit too much hope in his tone, as casually as the question had been intended. Kurt raised an eyebrow.

“Avoiding someone by any chance?”

“I’m startin’ to have a good day for once,” Todd grumbled, not looking at him. “Can you leave it alone, ‘by chance’?”

“I can,” Kurt said quietly, after a tense silence. Todd looked up, surprised Kurt hadn’t just ported out. “Leave it alone, that is. But you know, you are eventually going to have to--”

“Save it, yo,” the boy groaned. “Trust me, I know what I gotta do. I got the system all worked out and I can forecast shit hitting the fan long before 'eventually'. Like noon tomorrow, at the latest. Why don’t you all try to enjoy the peace an’ quiet for now, huh?”

“Ah . . . you . . . peace and quiet?” Kurt stammered. He whistled. “You’re kidding right? You live here now.”

“Oh please. You think it’s bad now? You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, gecko boy. You got the Brotherhood plus one surly bitch under your roof now-”

“Whoaaaa!” Kurt nearly fell off his chair, making the time out signal with his hands. “Did - Did you just call Wanda a bitch?”

“Er . . . she’s not really, okay? I didn’t mean it but . . . but I did, cause . . . argh!” Todd threw his hands up, frustrated. “I just . . . I . . .”

“You’re angry with her.”

“Yes! No! I mean . . . she was right, dammit. I . . . I gotta fix it. Fuck, I don’t wanna think about this!” Tolensky sat down, cross-legged, burying his face in his hands. Kurt was reminded sharply of how he’d looked at Arrowrose, how long Todd had stayed curled over like that after Wanda left, and the look in his eyes when he finally lifted his head.

Todd did so now and that look was there again. Kurt felt something in his stomach twist and just stopped himself – barely – from putting an arm around Todd’s shoulders as he offered a bravely frail smile to Kurt. “I just . . . you ever just want a day off of your life before you gotta go back to it?”

Kurt looked at him pointedly. Todd blinked and gave a hysterical little laugh. “Man, we both full of stupid questions today, huh?” His voice sounded thick. He coughed, trying to cover for it, and looked away embarrassed.

“Yeah, guess we are,” Kurt answered, offering a smile of his own. He sat there awkwardly, and stared at the toe of his left shoe. “So . . . all in favor of eating while on vacation?” He raised his hand slowly. Todd smirked and raised his. Still without looking at him, he then reached over and took Kurt’s wrist.

“Man, you got a one-track mind, anyone ever tell you that? Fine. But if they’re around, we get it to-go.”

“Fair enough,” Kurt agreed softly. And blue smoke swirled in their wake.




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