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Endearments, Enduring

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Anna Marie Moss, Rogue of Excalibur and the X-Men, never called Kurt a Fuzzy Elf, not once in the five years since their first meeting. Friends and enemies alike noticed, and while they all had their theories, no one came anywhere close to the truth.

People who heard stories of their early days, and far too many who were there and really should have known better, figured Rogue must've been jealous of Kitty giving Kurt the nickname to begin with, given his short-lived infatuation with Shadowcat when he first came to Xavier's. Jean still thought so.

Jean was half-right, not that Anna Marie would admit it. Nightcrawler would never be her Fuzzy Elf not because Shadowcat had named him, but because of why she did it. Kitty had feared him, and shunned him, and treated him like a thing. She hurt him, and went on hurting him until Rogue accidentally almost killed him that first horrible night. Kitty confessed to Rogue, not long after they first began rooming together at Xavier’s, that she gave him a ridiculously cutesy nickname to remind herself, every time she saw him, that underneath the fur and the fangs and the yellow eyes and the tail was just another teenage boy, with a mutation far troublesome than her own, who just wanted to have friends for the first time in his life. “Fuzzy Elf” was Kitty's way of saying she was sorry, because Kurt would never let her outright apologize. Back then Nightcrawler thought that he really was a monster.

(It was just a strange coincidence that the rest of the team picked it up. Even Wolverine. Then again, after seeing Logan with Ororo and Rose, and thinking of how he had always taken care of all of them, Anna Marie thought maybe they never gave him enough credit, back then.)

But more than that, Anna Marie didn’t need pet names for him. She knew why other couples used them: they were private things, sprouted from some special moment, to remind each other of just how deeply their love ran. Sure, he called her by German endearments she still had trouble pronouncing, but he did that with everyone he cared about, and any number of random little kids he was trying to keep from panicking at whatever great killer thing had come forth to slaughter the masses this week. And yeah, he was her Blue Raccoon, but almost always in public and only when she wanted to tease him or take the edge off her aggravation at something he had done that didn’t to deserve snowball into a real fight.

It’s not something she would ever whisper in his ear at a candlelit dinner (a pleasingly regular thing, because as much as she teased, there were benefits to dating an unabashed romantic who read too much swashbuckling fantasy and loved to go to renaissance fairs) or while curled up together on the love seat in the Institute’s rec room watching some ridiculous comedy she would’ve never admitted to loving when she was sixteen, or one of her favorite gothic thrillers, or whatever else.

When they first met, when Mystique’s meddling had made sure they were (supposed to be) enemies, she was Rogue and he was Nightcrawler. They were still Rogue and Nightcrawler even as his kind words and refusal to fully throw his punches (and her refusal to do the same, come to that, since she had absorbed a piece of him and subconsciously knew he was sincere) drew her attention and made her realize there was someone under the blue fur and terrible jokes that might just be worth getting to know. They were still Rogue and Nightcrawler as the weeks went on and their battles became less fights and more a chance to catch up and sometimes even commiserate about their teammates while trying to impress each other with whatever new tricks they had learned. (Turned out Mystique and Wolverine had both been thrilled with how hard they were pushing themselves in training, even if they didn’t know why.) They were Rogue and Nightcrawler even when they ran into each other while prowling sleepy nighttime Bayville on their own and walked quietly through parks and playgrounds and talked softly about nothing that would have mattered in the grand schemes of Charles Xavier and Magneto, but mattered plenty to two lonely young people trying to feel like they belonged in the world and not always convincing themselves. They were still Rogue and Nightcrawler when he started insisting on buying her hot tea and cocoa and anything else warm she wanted on their nighttime walks, because unlike “the Fuzzy One,” she didn’t have her own built-in winter coat. They were still Rogue and Nightcrawler after that, at least in part because even though Rogue thought she wanted to be something else, she wasn’t sure what that was, and certainly didn’t want to lose the fragile, happy thing that his presence brought to her life if Kurt already had all he wanted from her.

Then, just a month before she finally left the Brotherhood the day Mystique tried to kill Scott on that damned snow-covered mountain, her blue boy had put a stop to their latest dance-battle with an unexpected caress of warm, living, fur-insulated fingers against the bare skin of her face—real touch without gloves or clothes between them, unlike any she had since her powers took over her life—and as her brain stuttered and her heart skipped a beat or several, pressed a silk rose into her gloved hands along with a stuttering, heartfelt Happy Valentine’s Day speech, spoken with words only someone else who felt so cut off from the world would know, that still warmed her cheeks and pulled her face into a ridiculous smile whenever she thought of it. She hadn’t been ready then, had still feared the X-Men thanks to Mystique’s poison tongue, but she had known that someday she would ask him if he wanted to be something else with her, too. But she could never be anything more with Nightcrawler.

”Happy Valentine’s Day, Kurt,” she had told him, and his smile lit up the night like a sun.

She never needed pet names with him, because she always remembered that night, the first time she used his real name to cut through the walls between them, just as he had used the fur on his fingers to touch her face and do the same, the end of their beginning and the moment that every wonderful thing that happened afterwards started with.

No cutesy nickname could ever come close to capturing that feeling.

Anna Marie rolled over in bed, stretching out a pale, muscular arm and running her ungloved hand over the tightly-packed, painstakingly-sculpted, blue fur-covered planes of muscle between Kurt’s deceptively narrow shoulders, living, breathing, velvet strength under her touch. Her fingers paused at an old scar, caressing it gently for a moment and forcing herself to think fondly of how stupidly brave he could be, and absolutely not how close Omega Red came to taking away the most important person in her life or how crazy both of them obviously were for still running towards the raving lunatics instead of away from them. He purred deep in his throat and she grinned as he muttered some half-asleep German something-or-other. Her grin widened as the wooly warmth of his tail uncoiled from her ankle and slithered up to wrap around her middle, settling on the warm patch of skin where her undershirt wasn’t quite long enough to meet her pajama pants and pulling her close, until her chin settled into the crook of his pelted neck and her nostrils filled with the scent of gymnasium chalk; sulfur and brimstone; applewood shampoo; and something that made her think of the Black Forrest and the Hundred Acre Wood—something deeply natural and almost magical and completely Kurt. She nuzzled at the tip of a pointed, fuzzy ear with her nose, and had to hold back a laugh when his purring went up an octave for a moment.

Even though she was four inches shorter, Anna Marie saw no reason to ignore such a perfect opportunity and threw her right arm around his neck, curling a bare leg over one of his and spooning as best she could without forcing him to curl into a ball. His tail relaxed its grip on her just slightly, and she stared at him in the dim, fresh-snowfall glow of the faint nightlight that held off total darkness and kept him from turning completely invisible, at all the places her bare skin touched his without a care, and thought about how far they had come.

She rested her left hand on the back of his neck, and drew her head back a moment to stare with a soft smile at the platinum engagement ring on her finger, the green diamond in the center and surrounding white diamonds sparkling even in the dim light.

She thought of the Rose Garden and altar where Kurt would be waiting for her tomorrow with his Oma and Opa’s simple white gold wedding bands and a promise of forever, and couldn’t wait to see how far they would go.

Kurt was never Anna Marie’s Fuzzy Elf, and she didn’t need pet names to prove their love, but tomorrow and for the rest of her life she would happily call him husband.