The Taste Of Letting Go

by Dyce

Disclaimer: This is just a silly bit of stuff that Mel coaxed me to write. She curled up her toes and coaxed, how could I say no? <*g*> So this is for her. The characters mentioned don't belong to me, I'm not making any money off them, I don't have permission to use them, and if you don't tell Marvel what I did, I won't. Oh, and it's set soon after Pete and Kitty's breakup.

Kurt looked up at the pub-sign. The Crown. This was, according to Kitty, *the* spy bar in London. And she should know, Pete had taken her to all of them.

By Kurt's rather drunken reasoning, a bar that let spies in should certainly allow mutants, and any bar that would let Pete past the door should be positively *thrilled* to let Kurt have a drink too. Kurt smelled nicer than Pete.

Telling the large man who loomed up at him that he was a friend of Pete's, and was looking for him, seemed to work. The man grunted, and waved at a corner table. After squinting a bit, he could see Pete's coat rumpled up on one of the seats.

When he got a lot closer, he realized that Pete was inside it.

"Hello," Kurt said with a fair imitation of sober dignity. "May I sit down?"

Pete squinted up at him for a minute. "Who're you?" he asked suspiciously.

Oh, right, the image inducer. "It's me," Kurt explained. "Kurt Wagner." He leaned over confidingly. "I am out drinking."

Pete lifted his face out of his glass and blinked. "Really? Didn't think you did that."

Oh, well, Pete hadn't said he could sit down, but he hadn't said no, either. Kurt sat down. "Amanda has left me," he said mournfully. "Permanently, this time. And I am drowning my sorrows." He sighed. "Usually Logan joins me at these times, but he was busy. So I drink alone."

Pete thought that over, and his thin face softened a bit. "Poor bugger," he said sympathetically. "Have a drink."

"I already have. But I've room for more." Kurt looked at Pete's collection of used glasses. "Did you spit in any of these?"

"Just the one with the toothpick."

"Sehr gut. I will have this one, then." Kurt picked a shot-glass out of the collection, and helped himself to the bottle of whiskey on the table. He looked at the glass mournfully. "To happy people. I wish I was one."

"Yeh." Pete drained his glass, and reached for the bottle. "Don't we all."

"I miss Amanda."

Pete looked at his former team-leader. If he'd been able to see the pointy ears, he was sure the tips would have been drooping. "I miss Kitty," he confessed, moved by a rare feeling of comradeship. He did miss Kitty. He felt rather as if someone had driven a hedgehog into his chest, actually.

Kurt gave him a grateful look. He knew that Pete never opened up to people, and it was nice that he was trying to make him, Kurt, feel better. Or at least less alone. "There's a word," he said vaguely. "For this. The whole situation. A good word."

Pete thought for a moment. "Shitty?"

"No. That too, but no." Kurt thought for a moment. "An S word."

"Uh..." Pete gave it another minute's thought. "Smeggy?"

"Heh. Good, but no." He brightened. "I've got it. We're broken-hearted, alone, and not getting drunk nearly fast enough. And..." he thumped his fist on the table. "It *sucks*."

Pete saluted him with a new glassful of whiskey. "Damn right. Sucks. And smeggy and shitty, too."

"Right." They both had a drink.

"I don't need her, though," Pete said firmly, holding up a finger and watching it wave around all by itself. "Def'nitely not."

"Nein. We do not need them a bit." Kurt tried to watch the finger, but got dizzy and had to look at his drink instead. "Miss them, but do not need them."

"Want 'em, but don't need 'em."

"Love them, but don't need them." Kurt took another drink. "Logan told me to... what was it... get back on the horse."

"Right. Sound advice." Pete looked around. "I should do that, too."

Kurt looked around again. "Anyone here you would consider?"

"Uh... she's taken... she's gay... she's scary... don't fancy her... he's got bad personal hygiene..." Pete looked back at Kurt, a bit of a twinkle in the bloodshot eyes. "You, maybe. Got meself spoiled, with Kit. Yer the only one with clean habits."

Kurt chuckled. Pete was funny. "That would show them we don't need them."

Pete perked. "Hey, it would, too. Let's be dating. Just long enough to really 'orrify people."

Kurt paused, momentarily tempted. That would certainly teach people to take him for granted. Hah! A fling with a smelly Englishman! That'd shake them up! But... he sighed. "Nobody'd believe it."

Pete looked incensed. "Why not?"

"Because we have nothing in common," Kurt said reasonably. "We don't even like the same kind of food."

"Point." Pete leaned back in his seat, and they both sipped reflectively for a while. "No, really, it could work."

"It could?" Kurt polished off the remains of his drink, and poured another.

"Yeh, sure. Look, you're an idealist, and I'm a realist, right?"

"No. You're a closet idealist posing as a cynic, and I'm a realist pretending to be an idealist so people will like me."

"Orright, but we're talking about appearances, see? And the idealist/realist matchup's a traditional one." Pete held up his hand, and began laboriously ticking off his points. "Two, we're both reasonably intelligent, but not genuius.... geunu.... smartarses. Intellectual match, see?" Kurt nodded. "Three, we both like whiskey. That's a very important point."

Kurt nodded, looking sadly at the bottle. "But it's nearly gone."

"We can get some more," Pete said comfortingly. "Right, four, we both like to make plans. Really good plans. Sneaky plans."

Kurt perked up. "That's true. Plans are good. Like plans."

Pete nodded. "See? Five......uhm.... we don't like the spandex. I got me suit, you got that red... thing. Drapey."

"Amanda always said it looked dashing." Kurt drooped sadly. He missed Amanda.

"She 'ad nice taste in clothes, I know that." Pete did his best to look sympathetic. "All right, six... we both 'ave similar taste in significant bothers."

"Others," Kurt corrected.

"I said bothers and I meant bothers. All gorgeous and smart and heart-stealing." Pete sighed heavily. "Seven, we're both on the rebound. Best time for completely unsuitable relationships. And eight, we get along quite well. Mostly. I mean, for me."

Kurt nodded, impressed by this logic. "We do, don't we?"

"Yeh." Pete looked at his hand. "I'm up t' point eight now, right?"

"Nine," Kurt said helpfully.

"I should be on me other hand by now, then, yeh?"

"I suppose so. I can only get up to six on mine. And that's if I use both." Kurt sighed a bit more and drank his whiskey. "Fuzzy Elf, that's me. The fuzzball. Freak mutant person."

"Oh, complaints, complaints. You're all charmin' an' all." Pete sighed. "Me, I'm just a grub. Smelly old grub."

Kurt squinted at him. "But you do that on purpose," he said reasonably. "I can't help being fuzzy."

"You could wax," Pete suggested.

Kurt gave him a horrified look. "ALL OVER!?"

"Painful, true. It looks fine, anyway. All... elfy. Women like elfy."

"Men, too. Get propositioned all the time." Kurt looked embarrassed and pleased at the same time. "Not as much as Gambit, but some."

"*Nobody* gets as many as Gambit." Pete sighed. They both looked at their empty glasses, and at the empty bottle. "I still think it'd work."

Kurt considered. He'd been much struck with the logic of Pete's argument. "It might. Except for my religious prohibitions."

Pete waved a hand. "Oh, Catholics can be gay now. Everyone's doing it. 's cool. In, like."

Kurt looked a bit horrified. "It is?"

"Oh, yeh. Tolerance. Broadmindedness. Buzzwords. 's all cool, now." Pete held up the bottle and waved it at the man at the bar. The bartender made a very clear 'no more for you, buddy' gesture. Pete gave him the finger. "We're gonna have to find someplace else for drink."

Kurt nodded, climbing carefully out of his chair and onto the wavering floor. "Are Catholics really gay, now?"

"Ah, yeh, tons."

"Are you sure?"

"I know most of 'em. Know everybody, me." Pete held onto the table and eyed the crowded pub uncertainly. "Tell you what, elf... I'll hold onto you, and you hold onto me, and we'll sort of lean over to the door, right?"

Kurt gave him a relieved look, glad not to have to face the floor alone. It looked so... wavy. "Ja. I have a spatial.... thingie. I will steer. You push."

"Right." Pete nodded. "Uh... hold out yer arm, I can't reach over there without lettin' go of the table, and that wouldn't be a good idea."

* * *

Pete moaned as light stabbed at his eyes, right through his closed eyelids. Oh, God, he was hungover. Stiff, sore, headachy, and ill. "Feels like I've got fuzz on my tongue," he complained, more or less out of habit.

Kurt groaned, covering his eyes against the Bad Light. He felt dreadful. "I have a taste in my mouth like Pete's ashtrays."

Pete opened his eyes.

Kurt opened his eyes.

They looked at each other.

They looked at themselves.

They looked at each other again.

"I really do 'ave fuzz on my tongue, don't I?"