Title: 'Here We Go'
Spoilers: Minor ones for most of the series, especially the episode 'The Toad, the Witch, and the Wardrobe'
Personal Website: http://crimsonobsession.infinitemonkey.net and http://flexiblelove.infinitemonkey.net
Here We Go
X-Men: Evolution’s Kurt and Todd
“The only thing I desire is Blue-Boy’s fuzzy head!”
– Todd Tolensky, 'X-Men: Evolution'</center>
Arguably the slashiest American toon to ever hit the airwaves, ‘X-Men: Evolution’ tells the familiar story of the X-Men, with a twist. Most of the key characters that show up just happen to be in high school. A few, such as Wolverine and Storm, have taken on the roles of babysitters and guardians for the young mutants, but most of the fan favorites have adopted new forms, becoming modern teenagers with modern teenage problems. As Alternate Universe as the X-Men movies, X-Men: Evolution (Evo to its followers) borrows marginally from the comic originals, but always manages to create its own unique spin on Marvel’s popular mutant universe.
It has garnered numerous fans, probably due more to its intriguing characterization and production than its plotlines, which admittedly have some tendency to occasionally fall prey to camp or resemble too closely an after-school special. In fact, the characterization is where the show truly shines, managing to make the characters all familiar and yet entirely new at the same time.
It’s the characters - or, more precisely, the characters’ relationships - that keep the fans coming back, posting and remaining active through hell and high water. There’s a reason ‘Evo’ still holds title of the largest cartoon section at Fanfiction.net, surpassed only by certain anime series. There’s a reason you can look at just about any ‘Evo’ fanfic page and find countless stories devoted solely to relationships. ‘Evo’s fans are devoted, their ships are numerous, and it’s all because of the great dynamics set up between the characters, interactions that run the gamut, from comrades to nemeses, love to hate to love/hate.
In a fandom so wide and varied, there’s bound to be the misfit pairings, the obscure pairings. The ones that make people go, “Where the heck did THAT come from?” Some seem based solely on established or fannish comicverse continuity. Some were sparked by only a few moments of actual onscreen interaction. And some are considered, by most, to be just plain weird.
I’m proud to say, my OTP just happens to fall under the latter category.
Most fans of the show hear Todd/Kurt, and automatically do a double-take. Truthfully, I don’t know that I can blame them. Sure, Kurt Wagner (aka ‘Nightcrawler’) is easy to slash. He’s cute, sweet, vulnerable, and has an adorable, (sort of) German accent. What’s not to love? And Todd Tolensky has even earned his place among the hearts of a lot of fans, with his easily relatable wannabe–tough guy attitude and dry sense of humor. Yet few fans have so far ‘seen the light’ when it comes to actually pairing the boys.
Well, that’s what we’re here to change, right?
If we’re going to be honest with ourselves, both Todd and Kurt are a bit of an…acquired taste, when it comes to pairings. Mostly because of the physical aspects… Todd lives up to the moniker ‘Toad’ by catching bugs with his frog-like tongue, and showering once a month (some fans theorize that may be a result of his mutation, as most of his powers are reminiscent of frogs and toads, and such amphibians are sensitive to soaps of any kind, often fatally so). Even his fans have to admit he’s far from conventionally beautiful. And Kurt, well, everyone’s favorite fuzzy blue elf is just that – fuzzy and blue – with cat-like feet and a spade-tipped tail.
For some people, any or all of those are reason enough to avoid involving either boy in a relationship that’s even remotely physical. Learning to love the boys for their appearances, rather than despite them, is a daunting challenge for most, and fans that are amused and entertained by the characters might still balk when it comes to the two boys getting hot and sweaty in anything less ‘innocent’ than the (highly homoerotic) wrestling matches they engage in when their respective teams collide. To those fans, I have little to say, for I don’t really know myself why the visuals and possibilities of the two boys – two lean, ridiculously athletic boys, who are capable of executing the most complicated of gymnastic moves without batting an eye - are so appealing to me.
Well…the tail*sex is intriguing.
Ahem. Assuming you can make it over that first hurdle, there are others in place. Todd and Kurt bicker constantly. They’re always the ones butting heads when the teams start to fight. From the first moment they met (literally) they’ve been locked in their own small personal war, a grudge match that plays itself out almost every time they’re on the battlefield. Indeed, when it comes to the strictly X-Men vs. Brotherhood matches, Kurt and Todd face off against each other in all but a few. The outside observer might think them mortal enemies, or see their constant conflict as the result of the complementary nature of their very similar mutations, perhaps even as little more than slapstick. On top of that, the biggest boulder on their path to companionable bliss… Both have canon love interests.
Love interests of a sort, at least. In the later seasons, Kurt found Amanda Sefton – or rather, was found by her – and the two remained a relatively happy couple till the end of the show. Amanda is quite obviously devoted to him, doesn’t care about his mutation, and even rebelled when her parents tried to forbid her from seeing him. And at about the same time, Todd fell hard under the spell of the Scarlet Witch, gothic badass Wanda Maximoff. He fawns over her, calls her by ludicrous pet names, and regularly gets his skinny butt blasted into the boarding house’s walls, courtesy of Wanda’s hex-bolts. While only one of these relationships is mutual, they’re both very much in place, making both boys off-limits, not to mention marking them as straight. Right?
You’ve gotta hope that there’s someone for you
Strange as you are
Who can cope with the things that you do
Without trying too hard
-“Here We Go,” Jon Brion
Here we have Kurt. Kurt is a mutant. He’s hated and feared for this fact. But unlike his friends, Kurt was born with his mutation already in place, a mutation which turned out to be almost impossible to hide. When Kurt first arrived at the Xavier Institute, he was shy and nervous, a far cry from the boisterous jokester he should be. And no wonder; as far as is known, he spent his entire life in an isolation that would have been torture for someone so outgoing and friendly, his only human contact that he had with his loving adoptive parents. He learned the hard way that people wouldn’t react kindly to his appearance, and even some of his friends, before they got to know him, were accidentally harsh. When he and Scott first shake hands, Scott draws back from Kurt’s tridactyl grip with a shocked expression, and Kitty was “creeped out” by him for a long time until she finally became comfortable with him.
The one thing Kurt fears above all is fear. Fear that others may feel when finding out what he truly is, fear that could isolate him again, endanger him. One issue of the ‘X-Men: Evolution’ comic opens with a dream, where Kurt is tied to a stake, flames licking at his feet and clamoring townsfolk surrounding him. It’s a scene right out of the witch trials, and if the original X-Men continuity is any indication, it was more than just a dream. That is the one thing that separates Kurt from all the others. He knows the darkness men will sink to. He’s felt it firsthand, the prejudice and burning. He knows what it’s like to not be able to hide.
And yet, despite it all he’s become a good person. He’s loyal, and treasures his friendships as much as the acceptance he longs for. Generous to a fault, he tends to believe the best of people, and trusts almost to the point of naiveté. His flaws are almost purely self-destructive, like his almost complete lack of real self-esteem, and he crushes on just about everyone in the series, it seems, from Tabby to Kitty to Scott. (Especially Scott. Hero-worship is this boy’s middle name.)
Okay, now that we’ve talked about the elf… Over here we have Todd. Todd is also a mutant. He was hated for this fact, though when all is said and done the fear was most likely all on his part. Todd is a misfit in the truest sense of the word. Not much (read: none) of his childhood is known, as he first shows up already in Bayville High, either being approached by Mystique for the first time or already under her ‘employ’, but the safest conjecture seems that he’s spent a good portion of his life on the streets. The only reference made to his childhood comes with this one line:
“If you can’t be loved, be feared. My mamma taught me that.”
Hardly indicative of the same happy family unit that Kurt was gifted with. No one knows what happened to Todd’s parents; maybe they kicked him out when his mutation started to develop (Which must have been at an early age. At the beginning of the series he’s all of fifteen, and yet handles his abilities as if he’s had a lifetime to grow into them.) Or perhaps he ran away from a dangerous situation. Whatever the case, he almost certainly spent time on the streets, and boy does it show. Morally ambiguous, he steals to survive but shows no remorse for his actions. Hell, he’s more proud of his pick-pocketing skills than anything. He’s allied himself with the Brotherhood, and if he doesn’t exactly use them as a shield, he rarely stands up to anyone without their backup. His best trait is his sarcastic wit, and only his teammates seem (relatively) safe from his resentment and contempt.
So what would a good boy like Kurt see in such a bad egg? Why would the antisocial Toad fall for such a goody-two-shoes?
A fan once likened Todd and Kurt to a dark mirror, two sides of the same coin. And it’s true; the two share so many similarities it’s uncanny. They’re two destinations, reached from the fork of one path. What might have happened if Kurt grew up under his biological mother’s care, or on his own; without the love of his foster parents, or the generosity of the X-Men and their wealthy benefactor? And what about Todd? If he’d had a home, if he hadn’t been forced to fend for himself? Kurt is what Todd could have been, and vice versa. So many of their past experiences are the same, that they can relate in a way that no other characters on the show really can. They know each other, inside and out, because they’ve both been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and sent postcards. They’re equals in so many ways, and it’s obvious when you compare the way they treat each other to how they treat the rest of the cast. To most people, Kurt is deferential, painfully eager to please. With everyone else, Todd is normally sullen and wary, and snarky and bullying when he’s got protection.
Yet when the two are thrown together, Kurt’s puppyish please-love-me attitude is quickly tossed out the window, and Todd becomes brazen as if an entire football team had his back. Then comes the homoerotic wrestling…
At first, all of this seems merely conjecture, with about as much backup in canon as the ‘well they were together in the comics!’ pairings in which the characters actually had very little to do with each other in 'Evolution'. Sure, we can say they might be fun to throw together, but come on, in reality they wouldn’t be able to stop bickering long enough to remember to breath. Right?
Then came the little gem that was ‘The Toad, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’. An episode that leaves us with the irrefutable conclusion that the show’s crew realizes exactly what those wrestling matches look like - the artists did draw them frame-by-frame, after all – and wanted to throw us poor little slash fans a bone. Somehow, an episode all about how much each boy cares for ‘his girl’, ended up being one of the slashiest moments in a series already rife with slash. It’s slashier than Kitty and Rogue’s infamous dance scene in ‘Spykecam’, slashier than Pietro grabbing Pyro’s ass, slashier than the entire lesbian orgy that was the grinding girl-on-girl dance sequence in ‘Walk on the Wild Side’! And, more importantly than the delicious wrestling (and subsequent bondage) scenes, the episode hinted at one thing. These two could work. Todd could put aside his resentment and carefully constructed mask, opening up to Kurt like he hadn’t to anyone else in the series. And Kurt, despite Todd’s being responsible for one of the worst moments of his tentatively blooming social life, could look past all that’s between them; enough so that he not only agrees to help Todd, but defends him when Wanda seems ready to attack him afterwards. Suddenly, they seem to really see each other for the first time, and while the animosity may not have just melted away, a foundation for something – truce, friendship, more? - was obviously laid that day.
And as for the love interests and assumed heterosexuality, I have to admit that both are relatively easy to dismiss, to my mind. I see both boys as being, how shall we say… not picky about couplings. In truth, neither one has the luxury, at least to their minds, and the sentiment ‘who would ever want a freak like me?’ is far too easy to apply to both. Yes, I think Kurt cares for Amanda. But I have doubts as to whether it’s real love, or the devotion of someone just grateful that he’s been the one chosen, for once. The few instances of them actually interacting on screen are comedic, painting Kurt as ridiculously nervous, almost as if he’s afraid that one of these days, Amanda will recognize him for the freak he is, and dump him for it. It’s like a first love, the kind of relationship kids can have before they discover the real thing, without the chemistry and fire that’s present in even the most quibbling of squabbles between he and Todd. And Todd and Wanda, well… that one is painfully one-sided. Adorable as they can both be, I personally find it hard to believe Wanda would ever stoop to anything more than close friendship with Todd. She’s yet to show any indication that she finds him less than repugnant, and more importantly, comes across as almost asexual herself. Aside from a single instance of ogling the ‘handsome ski instructor’ in ‘TTTWATW’, she never makes any overtly interested gestures toward any of the characters (aside from her brother, but that’s a pairing for another essay).
My deepest apologies to any Kurt/Amanda or Todd/Wanda shippers I’ve offended. Here I’d like to reiterate the fact that these are my opinions of the whole thing, and state that barring that whole argument, there’re always the several seasons before the girls came into play. Heh.
I was first introduced to the idea for this pairing by a friend, Lacey, who had written one of perhaps four Todd/Kurt fics that were on the internet. We were actually viewing X2 at the time, and while I started dabbling in that fandom, re-igniting my childhood love of the X-Men and Kurt Wagner in particular, I wasn’t really into ‘X-Men: Evolution’ then. The pairing went onto the backburner of my mind, until my girlfriend really began to get into 'Evo', and fell hard for Todd. I was soon dragged into the show and convinced of the cuteness that was Todd by idgiebay. It was only inevitable, I suppose, that our two favorite boys became our absolute favorite pair.
The one thing that I really love about this pairing, I think, is its versatility. With this couple, you can do almost anything. Angst, Unrequited, Bondage, Rivalslash, Hurt/Comfort and Forbidden Love, the potential is right there. Whether you wanted to write a Romeo and Juliet-esque tale in which both the Brotherhood and X-Men denounce their love, a fluffy piece of schmoop in which they slowly realize their long-developing friendship is something more, or a smorgasbord of kink, involving lots of creative mutant sex with ridiculously flexible bodies and long appendages (the tail and the tongue, get your minds out of the gutter), all of that and more works here. As the fanfics that have already been written show, Todd and Kurt can fit into a variety of roles, settings…and positions. Hell, they’re equal enough that even the roles of top and bottom are interchangeable with them. A vast majority of their histories is open to exploration, as are the motivations behind who they are and why they do the things they do.
In short, there’s a plethora of material to work from in this pairing, whether canon or fanon. Yes, it’s a misfit pairing. Its followers probably don’t make up more than a fraction of the 'Evo' fanbase, but the few are devoted and vocal. There aren’t many fics or pics out there, but the ones that are around are consistently well done. Sure, we don’t have the glamour of Pietro/Lance, or the numbers of Rogue/Remy. Kurt and Todd aren’t for everyone. But the acceptance, understanding, and mutual fire between them are for some. The boys fit a variety of tastes, and the ones who love them are a unique brand all their own.
Won’t you join us?
Todd grimaced, knowing that girls weren't his strong suit. He'd heard Lance and Pietro bragging about their conquests more than a few times, but his own experience with the opposite sex was rather lacking. For answer, he let his tongue fall out of his mouth and hang well below his chin, and the retracted it. "With a tongue like this, what do you think?"
Kurt leaned close to Todd, eyes glitter with amusement. "I think that with a tongue like that, you must be a master of the French kiss."
- ‘New Beginning’, by Lacey : One of the first Todd/Kurt fics on the net, as far as I can tell. A cute story about the roots of a friendship.
- 'Because I Got High', by Idgiebay and I : The one that started it all. An RP–turned–fic that was the beginning of our foray into the glorious madness of Todd/Kurt. It’s rife with teen angst, and my girl’s half of the writing, at least, is worth the read.
A bitter laugh was his answer. “It always hurt, ‘Crawler. I just tried not to show it.”
- 'Between Friends', by Foxglove : A fic that refuses to just ignore their love interests, and actually works with and around them. Mmm, angst.
"Looking out for the team, man. 'S all. Doing what has to be done."
- 'Beyond Redemption', by me : I debated putting one of my own in here, but what can I say, I’m an attention*whore. Dark and angsty future fic.
"Mini-golf isn't manly," Kurt said. What remained of his brain decided to take the massive problems with this entire conversation one step at a time.
- 'Date Night', by Mouse : An account of the boys’ ‘first date’. I love this one for its IC-ness. It demonstrates just how easily these two could get to like each other if just given the chance, heh.
- 'Fool', by Mouse : Words cannot express how much I love this fic. Short and brutally good.
Kurt just hugged him tighter. “I’m not here because I’m trying to be a hero. You’re hurting. That’s all I care about.”
- 'Only Losers Win', by Foxglove : Takes place inside an episode, and actually feels like it. IC, with a bit of angst and sweetness.
Kurt looked up at him guiltily. “Ja, of course I do,” he whispered, “but I’m terrified…”
- 'PDA', by Melarocco : A short little snippet that examines the ‘forbidden love’ aspect. I love it to pieces, yes I do!
- 'Self-Pleasure', by e-giggle : Drabble, now with more sex!
- 'Sneaking', by Devilish Kurumi : Short little humor fic with an amusing twist.
“That’s… good… isn’t it?”
“It should be,” he sighed heavily, “but…”
- 'Stepping Into the Unknown', by Melarocco : I love this fic, so much. This is another that works with Amanda’s presence, instead of ignoring it. Poignant and honest.
- 'Sunshine and Chocolate', also by me : Because I’m an attention*whore, and there’s not enough sex on here.
- 'Thursday Afternoons', by Melarocco : Mmmm…tail*sex.
- 'Unsent', by Mouse : Beautiful fic with some really well done ‘stream of consciousness’ ramblings.
- 'You Can Jump But You’ll Fall', by Devilish Kurumi : Highlights some of the boys’ darker similarities.
- http://fernandatenjou.deviantart.com/ , http://www.livejournal.com/community/toddkurtslash/64527.html#cutid1 Fernanda Tenjou, a talented Brazilian artist. More of her work can be found in posts of toddkurtslash.
- http://flexiblelove.infinitemonkey.net/fanart/toddkurtbathroom1-bb.jpg, http://flexiblelove.infinitemonkey.net/fanart/kurttoddsexy1-bb.jpg, idgiebay, my Todd/Kurt goddess. My personal favorite, and I’m not just saying that cause I’m dating her! Heh. Her DevArt gallery is here , and contains lots more lovely Kurt/Todd and Kurt and Todd art, along with art from Invader Zim and other fandoms.
- http://marsw.deviantart.com/gallery/ She has a couple of really great Todd/Kurt pics on her Deviantart gallery, along with pics from lots of other fandoms.
- http://flexiblelove.infinitemonkey.net/fanart/todkurtbug.jpg , http://flexiblelove.infinitemonkey.net/fanart/sketches2.jpg Psykodelikpanda, who can also be found in posts of toddkurtslash and at the archives’ gallery. I love her sketches!
- http://dendraica.california.com/videos/tarzan.WMV ‘Tarzan and Jane’, by Toy-Box, is set to the best Todd/Kurt moments in the series by Manikaitwing.
Communities and Webpages:
- toddkurtslash The Todd/Kurt Slash Community on Livejournal : Where our motto is ‘Young enough to love, old enough to lust.’ It’s grown a little less active lately, but there’s still tons of good stuff to be found, and going through old posts reveals some real treasures. The only Todd/Kurt-centric community online, as far as I’m aware of, and we’re just hitting our one-year anniversary.
- The Todd/Kurt Slash Archive : A page Idgiebay and I set up to archive all the fics and pics posted to the LJ community. Now if we could only get around to updating it…
These are my personal favorites, but all the pieces I’ve seen devoted to this pairing are top-notch. We’re gifted with some truly talented individuals, and if I happen to have forgotten any of them, forgiveness please. You guys know what my memory is like!