by Stellamaru

Rating: PG
Summary: Ficlet--A brief conversation in the garden.
Pairing: K/O
Archive: Lemme know and you can have it, okay?
Feedback: is good for the soul.
Disclaimer: The characters herein are not mine--I'm just borrowing them for a while. They will be returned in more or less the same condition in which I found them.

Notes: I really, really, REALLY liked Storm n' Kurt in X2. Yup.

Ororo stood in the garden, looking up at the night sky. It was a new moon, and the school was far enough from the city so that thousands more stars were visible, coldly shining their ancient light down on her. For the first time in many years, she found herself wondering at the pattern of the stars--tiny white sparks against the midnight blue sky--were they sprinkled randomly, or was it by some design? She felt very small.

She closed her eyes and breathed in the sweet scent of night jasmine, born to her over a soft breeze. Her closest friend was gone; she wanted to rage and scream, to put a hurt on those who had taken Jean from them. The only problem was, Jean herself had left them--sacrificed herself for them, hadn't let anyone try to stop her. 'Ro wanted to sob with grief, scream in frustration, and hit in anger, all at the same time.

Scott was a wreck. He wandered the halls, a shell of a man. Logan wasn't much better. Xavier seemed oddly nonplussed, but people show their grief in different ways. 'Ro herself tried to present her usual cool exterior, especially around the children, saving her grieving for more private moments. Moments like this, when she was alone in the garden with nothing but her thoughts and her anguish.

A soft murmuring broke through her thoughts. She cocked her ear and made out a sound--words spoken low and reverently. She followed the sound to the tall maple tree that marked the end of the formal garden area. Without knowing a word of German, she knew from the tone that it was a prayer. Not wanting to interrupt, she halted a few yards away.

After a moment, Kurt stopped and looked up at her, his eyes shining brightly against his dark face. "Don't stop for me," she said. "I didn't mean to disturb you."

"You did not," he said, looking down at the rosary he was fingering.

'Ro stepped closer to him. "Can I ask you something? In the plane, when... you prayed. You prayed for her, in English..." she paused and furrowed her brow. "You prayed for someone you'd only just met, in a language foreign to you..." she trailed off, unable to articulate her question.

"And?" he said, nodding. "She was willing to give herself to save everyone in the plane, myself included. The least I could give was a prayer in her own language."

'Ro blinked her eyes, feeling suppressed tears fighting their way out. "What do you pray when you pray in German?" she asked, surreptitiously rubbing her eyes. His expression changed, closing off a little. "I-- I'm sorry. It's personal, right? I shouldn't have asked."

His hand went unconsciously to the whorled designs on his face. "Ja, it is... personal," he said.

"I'm sorry," she said again.

"Don't be."

She took two more steps to his side. "Can I touch them?" she asked, reaching out before he answered. Her fingertips brushed his face, finding the raised patterns. In the dark, she traced the markings that blended together creating a single design on his midnight blue skin. Had he planned it? How could so many single pieces come together to make such a complex and wonderful whole?

Each one a sin, he'd told her. She followed their path, wondering at the time and pain it must have taken to etch each design. "Did you pray while you made them?" she whispered.

"Yes," he said. "They are full with my prayers." He closed his eyes when her fingers reached his forehead.

'Ro's hand halted when she realized she was caressing his face, not examining his tattoos. "Thank you," she said.

He opened his eyes and took her hand--the one on his face--in his oddly misshapen hand. He held it lightly, as if expecting her to snap it away. "Thank you," he said.

They stood, on the edge of the garden, under the night sky. Above them the cold light from millions of stars shone; their pattern in the sky was an intricate puzzle, each piece of which was a tiny fraction of the whole design.