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The Demon Has Four Faces…

“I’m telling you, Jean…” Warren said with a sad shake of his head. “The guy is so close to the edge one little nudge will send him over.”

“And what makes you think this?” She asked calmly.

“He crashed a press conference, talked about hiring an agent and suggested I run for President!” Warren imparted.

“He always had a strange sense of humour.” Jean almost chuckled. She cocked her head to one side as she studied him. “And you know? I can actually see you in the Oval office…”

“I’m serious, Jean!” Warren said, seriously.

“I haven’t sensed anything from him that indicates he’s unstable.” She frowned. “But he has been acting a little…off…lately…” She sighed. “Maybe we SHOULD talk to him…”

“Where is he?”

Jean concentrated. “Outside…in the woods…” She frowned. “And he seems rather confused…”

Warren would have smirked and sung ‘I told you so’ over and over again in a high, child-like voice if he hadn’t been so worried.

“I’ll go get him.” He offered.

~~~~~~

“Perfect…” Warren mumbled to himself. “Had to play the concerned friend…had to offer to come out here in the dark and find him…”

It was a dark, almost moonless night…and the woods that surrounded the mansion were dark enough in broad daylight. Even with his sharp eyesight, Warren was had pressed to find a mutant that could quite literally vanish into the shadows. The whole place was shadows.

He continued grumbling to himself, kicking at the leaves beneath his feet. He was so distracted that he didn’t notice the bright golden slits that followed him from the tree above his head. He didn’t notice the shadow move to follow him. He didn’t hear that same shadow drop to the ground behind him.

He didn’t notice a thing until he was slammed into a tree trunk and found the business end of a sabre at his throat.

“Nightcrawler?” He gasped.

“Worthington!” Came the hissed replied, dripping with unbridled hatred. “I should have known you would survive!”

“Survive what?” Warren asked, wide-eyed.

“Don’t play the fool with me, Worthington.” He growled. “What the HELL is going on?!”

“It’s kind of hard to reply with a sword jabbing at your Adam’s apple.” Warren growled back.

“Tough!”

Warren frowned. The attitude just wasn’t Kurt at all. But even in the dim light he could see the changes went beyond psychological. He couldn’t remember Kurt ever wearing body armour. His hair seemed somehow longer and was most definitely wilder. But the most obvious change was the red mark across his left eye. It wasn’t a wound, it almost looked like…

“What’s with the tattoo, Kurt?” He asked, genuinely curious. “The priesthood must really be lightening up to let you get away with that.”

“Priesthood!” The growl rose slightly, with more than a hint of disgust. “I can’t say I care for your sense of humour!”

A sudden scarlet explosion rent the air above their heads. Kurt cursed under his breath, planted his foot firmly in Warren’s belly, winding him before promptly vanishing in his characteristic flash of brimstone.

“You okay, Warren?” Scott asked. “Jean could sense your distress…”

“I think we have a MAJOR problem.”

~~~~~~

“You’re serious?” Bobby asked with a sceptical arch of his eyebrow.

“God boy went medieval on your butt?” Stacy covered her mouth so Warren couldn’t see her barely contained laugh.

“No.” Warren clarified. “He just threatened to.”

“Oh, c’mon…” This time she did laugh.

“You don’t know him all that well, Stacy.” Jean pointed out. “There isn’t an X-Man here at the moment that can beat him when it comes to fighting skills.”

“You’re joking?”

“Between martial arts and fencing…he’s pretty formidable…” Scott agreed.

“And now he’s running around the grounds, totally out of his mind, with a sword that he totally knows how to use?” She questioned. “Perfect!”

“Well…” Warren frowned. “We’re not exactly sure WHERE he is…he teleported…and he can cover a fair bit of distance…he could be halfway to New York by now…”

“Can you find him?” Scott asked Jean.

“I’ve been trying to…” she admitted. “But it’s hard to pinpoint him…I’m getting ghosts…it’s like he’s in more than one place at the same time…if I could just…”

Then the lights went out.

“My guess is he’s hacking away at the fuse box…” Stacy mumbled under her breath.

“Scott…Jean…see to the students…” Warren said, all business. Scott raised a brow at being ordered around, but said nothing. “He’s our team mate, we’ll find him…”

“And do what exactly?” Stacy asked. “If he IS out of his tiny little mind he’s a real danger…”

“And he certainly seemed to have a major hate-on for you, Warren.” Bobby pointed out.

“All the more reason to put our heavy hitters in charge of the kids while we find and contain the crazy little furball…”

~~~~~~

‘Nut boy’d be a whole lot easier to find if Wings had let us sort out the lights…’

Stacy moved as silently as she could through the darkened mansion. The fact that he’d taken out the power was surely an indication that he was on the hunt. With his colouring and ability to stick to every available surface, the darkness gave him more than a little advantage. Logic indicated that they should evacuate the premise immediately. They’d already declared him of unfit mind, he was armed and most certainly pissed about something. Warren’s account was testament to that…

She sniffed the air at the hint of a familiar smell. Smoke. Not the thick, heady aroma of Wolverine’s cigars but the lighter fragrance of a cigarette. To her knowledge, none of the resident X-Men smoked them. She twisted quickly when she felt the soft exhale against the back of her neck. She saw the bright red flare of the cigarette before it was flicked to the floor. Behind it she could see the soft golden glow of a pair of rather familiar eyes. But there was a look in them that she’d never seen before.

“I take it you are looking for me?” The voice was more playful than she was used to, and she was sure the accent was thicker than usual. She could barely see him in the darkness but he seemed to be having no such trouble. She flinched slightly when she felt his thumb gently trace the curve of her jaw. Partly because it was an unexpected touch from him, but mostly because of the electric jolt it sent through her body.

“Hmmm…” He intoned as he leaned in closer. “Interesting…your beauty…so exotic…it is a match for my own…”

Bobby had told her what a lady-killer he’d been, back before he’d sworn himself to the service of a God she wasn’t even sure she believed in. And now, with him so close, the brush of that perfectly disciplined body against her…

“I don’t know what you’re playing at, Wagner…” She began.

“Liebling…” He breathed. “When it comes to romance…I NEVER play…”

‘Remember…’ She told herself. ‘Not only is he totally out of his mind…he’s a priest…’ But he was making it so hard for her to heed her own thoughts as he slowly rubbed his furred check against hers as he lowered his lips to the crook of her neck.

“Oh, God…” She whispered as he lightly dragged his fangs across her throat.

“God has nothing to do with it.” He chuckled. “Besides…I much prefer to hear my own name called out in the heat of passion.”

“Kurt…” she began, her knees threatening to buckle under his expert ministrations.

“Yes…” He smirked. “That would be it…”

“Kurt…” She repeated. “You don’t want to do this…”

“Oh?” He sounded amused.

“When you come to your senses…” She swallowed as he trailed velvety kisses along her jaw. Though she could drop him in an instant, she really didn’t want to hurt him. And besides, there was a part of her that really didn’t want him to stop. But she knew she couldn’t let him continue. “You’re really gonna regret…”

“What say we put that mouth of yours to better use, hmmm?” He said as he put a finger to her lips to silence her. She frowned at the rather long, hooked, almost claw-like fingernail that crowned its tip. But before she could reflect on it further he pulled her into a very intense, very passionate kiss.

She’d never realised just how kissable he was before. She’d never really looked beyond the little square of white at his throat. She may not have been of the highest moral fibre, but there were certain things she just wouldn’t do. She ran her hands across his chest, her fingers tangling in some sort of rope-like cording and an over abundance of buttons.

‘What the hell is he wearing?’ She thought. ‘A Sergeant Pepper’s band jacket or something?’

All reasoning melted away after that as she realised she was just about to find out how much he lived up to his reputation of lady-killer…

~~~~~~

“Trust Warren to give me the basement levels…” Bobby muttered as he moved through the gloom. He kept looking upwards, Kurt had a penchant for ceilings, and dropping on his enemies from above, and he wasn’t about to be caught unawares.

He barely noticed the storeroom door, he’d passed it more times than he cared to remember, but something made him do a double take. It could have been just a trick of the light, or rather, absence of it, but he was sure the door was slightly ajar.

He gently pushed it open with his toe, prepared for anything as he cautiously moved into the room. It was a vast space, nothing in the mansion could ever be described as understated. It was filled with row upon row of ceiling high shelving units, each teaming with a variety of crates, boxes and bundles. It was as quiet as the rest of the basement, but Bobby had been an X-Man too long to take anything at face value. His suspicious nature proved him right when he found several bundles pulled apart and scattered all over the floor. Squatting down he scooped up a handful of deep blue, heavy-duty spandex.

‘Cyclops’ old uniform…’ He frowned as he recognised the garment in his hands. ‘Looks like our fragile-minded friend is feeling a little nostalgic…’

He moved quietly towards where he knew the old costumes were stored. He smiled to himself when he saw the familiar form, crouching on one of the now empty shelves, rummaging through a bundle, tossing gloves and belts all over the place, tail twitching impatiently. He frowned when he noticed Kurt wasn’t wearing his classic black, white and red outfit, but a deep blue one with a vibrant pink ‘X’ across his chest.

Kurt suddenly stopped his digging, his golden eyes fixing on the unwelcome presence. They seemed a little brighter than usual. Bobby was sure he heard him growl…

“Okay, Kurt…” He said in a calm, placating manner. “Just take it easy…whatever cog’s slipped in there we can put it back…”

Kurt’s nostrils flared, the golden glow of his eyes seemed reflected there. He bared his fangs, and a similar glow seemed to trickle from his mouth. Bobby’s eyes widened as the slight waft of brimstone burnt his nose.

“Okay…we can take care of that too…”

He snarled something at him, something he couldn’t understand, though he did recognise the language. He’d know Kurt for years now after all, and he’d heard him speak in his native tongue before, he’d even learned a few words of it, but he couldn’t understand it rapid fire in a whispered snarl.

“English, Kurt…” Bobby suggested. “You remember English, right?” He was getting worried now. Kurt hardly ever spoke German anymore, so for him to lapse into it like this was very disconcerting. He took a step towards him, stopping when Kurt made a quick back peddle. He almost seemed afraid…

‘What the hell is going on inside your head?’ Bobby wondered.

~~~~~~

Warren had taken the top floor. Kurt had been so aggressive he felt it best if the one that could fly took the high ground in case he did something crazy and threw him out the window. He was certainly capable of such a thing…

“I didn’t know you’d grown a backbone…” Kurt’s voice whispered from the darkness.

Warren tensed. He didn’t know where this attitude had come from, but he knew he didn’t like it. Warren HAD been taking over the reins of leadership lately, and Kurt HAD been used to giving orders for so long during his time in England. Was he resentful about that?

“If you have problems with my leadership abilities…” He began, glancing around, trying desperately to locate the armed and disgruntled mutant.

“Leadership?” He laughed. “You? Puh-lease…”

“Then just what has put a burr in your tail?” Warren demanded.

“You really have to ask that?” Kurt shot back as he landed silently from his perch in the rafters. “You who sold your self to the demon Apocalypse?”

Warren closed his eyes at the sound of that name. He remembered what that monster had done to him. Kurt was right, he had willingly submitted himself, but he hadn’t known what it would involve. He had never imagined that Kurt could be so spiteful…

“You…who lived a life of luxury as one of his chosen while the rest of us fought for every breath we took…forever looking over our shoulders…forever hiding in the dark…”

It was then that the lights came on.

~~~~~~

“Well…” Kurt mused as he was momentarily blinded. “That’s a mood breaker…”

Stacy gasped as she finally got a good look at him. He looked like Kurt, but somehow at the same time he didn’t. The hair was different, shorter, with a thick cowlick falling across his forehead, and there was an air of smugness about him that she’d never seen before. A pair of highly mirrored sunglasses hid his eyes, even the soft glow was impossible to see now. He was dressed in a far more flamboyant manner as well, in black, red and white. Most everything was form fitting, leaving little to the imagination, and she thought for a moment that he certainly had a body worth displaying. His scarlet jacket was very reminiscent of a military dress uniform, with a snowy silken sash slashing across his chest from his right shoulder.

But it was the emblem at his hip that drew her attention. A highly decorated, medal-like medallion…

“Is that a swastika?” She asked in horror.

~~~~~~

“Holy spit!” Was all Bobby could think to say when he got a good look at Kurt. The blue-furred mutant had never been that big, but he was now obviously smaller, thinner, and somehow younger.

Kurt cocked his head to one side, slightly confused. Bobby could see a spark of recognition in those eerily glowing eyes.

“Eis…” Kurt said softly.

“Eis?” Bobby repeated, equally confused. Kurt rubbed his upper arms, mimicking coldness. “Oh…ICE…” He solidified the water particles around his hand. Kurt nodded enthusiastically.

Kurt moved cautiously towards him. He reached out quickly, pushing up the sleeve on Bobby’s right arm, frowning at the arm he exposed. He looked up at him in total confusion.

“Okay…” Bobby admitted. “That was weird.” He sighed. “Well…at least you recognise me…”

~~~~~~

“What the hell happened to you?” Kurt frowned at Warren.

“Apocalypse did this to me!” Warren gestured to his blue-skinned face. “You know…after the Mutant Massacre…you almost died…I lost my wings…the whole ‘Death’ thing…metal wings…Archangel…any of this ringing a bell?”

“Actually…no.” Kurt said.

“Okay…fine…maybe our resident telepaths can figure this out…” He sighed. “Time to regroup…after you…” Kurt just looked at him. It was obvious he wasn’t about to turn his back on anyone. Warren let out a snort and led the way. He glanced back, noticing Kurt was watching him very carefully as they made their way down to the main level.

‘At least he’s put the sword away…’ Warren mused.

The pair entered the commons room and stopped dead in their tracks. Warren looked at the Nightcrawler beside him, and then back at the one sitting very comfortably on the overstuffed sofa with Stacy. Stacy herself did a similar double take.

The seated Nightcrawler smirked and rose gracefully, slinking across the floor towards the other pair. “I must say…” He said to his other self. “You are one fine looking fellow.”

He in turn looked to Warren. “What the hell is going on here?” He demanded.

“Your guess is as good as mine.” He shrugged.

“Will you come on?” Bobby’s voice came from the hallway. “Nobody’s gonna hurt you…”

“Bobby?” Warren queried.

“I found him…but he’s a little…well…skittish…”

“You mean we’ve got three of him?” Stacy asked incredulously.

“Ah, Liebling…” The cowlicked Kurt beamed. “You just can’t get too much of a good thing.”

Bobby finally managed to coax his Kurt into the room. His colouring was so dark in comparison to the other two he almost looked black. Warren eyed him sceptically.

“Why is he wearing my old costume?” He asked.

“You actually went out in public in that?” Stacy asked. Warren ignored her.

“Beats me.” Bobby shrugged. “I’d ask him, but all he does is babble at me in German.”

Cowlick Kurt arched a brow, then said something to his obviously much younger doppelganger. The youngster replied quietly.

“He says he was cold and seeing as it already had holes in it he didn’t think anybody would notice if he put another one in it.” He translated.

“Why did he need to put a hole in it?” Warren asked. Cowlick Kurt flicked his tail in way of explanation. “Ah…”

“Warren…” Stacy said quietly. Beaming inanely she gestured for him to join her as she moved to the far end of the obscenely large room. Warren glanced at Bobby, who moved as inconspicuously as he could with him towards the snake-skinned mutant. “What the hell is going on?” She hissed at Warren, pulling him close by his shirtfront. “How can there be three of him?”

“You know…” Bobby said glancing back at the trio of Nightcrawlers. “I saw something like this on an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer…”

Warren threw him a look. “Be serious, Bobby…”

“I am!” He protested. “Xander got the whammy put on him and broke into two parts…one was all his positive traits and the other was all his wimpy traits…”

“Bobby…” Warren signed, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“You know…it kinda makes sense…” Stacy mused. “You said he was a good fighter…that’d explain grim, stressed and lethal…you also said he had an eye of for the ladies, which explains the cobalt Casanova…”

“And the kid?” Warren arched a brow, interested to see her complete her train of thought.

She shrugged as she looked at the quietly nervous youngster. “It can’t have been easy for him to grow up looking like that…”

~~~~~~

While the trio of X-Men discussed their trio of visitors, those visitors decided to make themselves as comfortable as possible, though only the cowlicked Kurt truly seemed at ease. He eyed Stacy’s shapely form appreciatively as he pulled a packet of cigarettes from his tunic. He popped one into his mouth and began searching for his lighter. He flicked it to life and brought the flame to the end of the tube of tobacco in his mouth but a flash of silver slashed through it before he could light it.

He glared at his armoured counterpart. He hadn’t even heard the sword leave its scabbard.

“It is a disgusting habit.” He said. “And very harmful to those around you.”

“What are you?” He countered. “My conscience?”

He just snarled. Smiling, confident that he’d won, but not wanting to provoke his heavily armed twin further, he went back to his previous study of Stacy’s curves. He ran his tongue across his teeth, what he was thinking was obvious.

“She’s not a piece of meat.” The armoured one snarled at him.

He looked over the top of his mirrored shades at his surly companion. “Mein freund…” He smiled. “I prefer to think of each of them as a fine red wine…warm…full bodied…and delightful to the palette…”

The other bared his fangs. He couldn’t believe that this…creature…that looked so much like him could be so smarmy…so twisted…so sleazy! He didn’t think it was possible to truly hate himself. But he really did not like this creature. He wanted to use his swords on so much more than his cigarette.

He looked beyond him to where the younger, darker version of himself crouched on an overstuffed armchair by the fire, isolated by the language barrier. He looked back with large, brightly glowing eyes, as haunted as his own. He was so young, too young to look at life in such a manner. He wondered what the child had been through. He was about to reach out to the boy, talk to him, when his lurid self muttered something rather obscene under his breath concerning the snake-skinned woman.

It was the last straw. He had experienced an instant dislike for the creature and his disrespectful manner. He punched him hard in the face. The other shook it off and leapt to his feet, facing him down.

“You need to learn some respect.” He growled.

“And you think you’re the one to teach me?” The other countered as he took up a defensive stance.

“Who better than yourself?”

As soon as the swords left their scabbards the youngest Nightcrawler wisely took to the ceiling. Crouching in a corner like a great black spider, he watched the two older versions of himself attempt to beat the living daylights out of each other. He didn’t know what they were fighting about, he didn’t really care, he just wanted to keep out of range of the slashing sabres.

It was a curious and frustrating fight for all concerned. Neither participant could seem to draw a bead on the other. They knew each other too well. Fists, feet and swords found nothing but empty air as the room began to fill with smoke and the rancid smell of sulpha.

The more flippant, cowlicked Kurt decided to have some fun with his surly opponent. Perching on the back of the chair their young counterpart had just departed, he razzed his sword-wielding self, teleporting out of danger a scant second before the blades slashed through the leather. He had hoped to blindside his aggressive other, but the armoured Kurt had anticipated the move, twisting to meet him with both blades. Cowlicked Kurt managed to dodge them in an impressive display of dexterity, but failed to notice his opponent follow through with his tail, sweeping his legs out from under him.

He quickly rolled across the floor as both swords were brought straight down into the spot where he had fallen. He crashed into a floor lamp, knocking it over. The sound of the shattering light bulb alerted the attention of the three X-Men.

“Aw crap…” Warren mumbled.

“Impressive…” Stacy smirked, watching the graceful movements of the sleekly muscled bodies of both Nightcrawlers. “The dude CAN fight…”

“Yeah…but what happens if one of them kills the other?” Bobby questioned.

“Knock it off!” Warren yelled at them. Cowlicked Kurt’s head snapped towards him. Armoured Kurt grinned at his opening and slashed him across the forearm. Cowlick growled and leapt at him, only to crash into a wall of ice that had suddenly appeared between them. It shattered with his impact, showering them both with shards of ice.

“Now cool off.” Bobby smirked at them.

“Now what the hell was that about?” Warren demanded, but neither one of them seemed willing to explain their actions. Warren sighed angrily. “Keep them separated…I’ll go get the others…”

Cowlicked Kurt had removed his white sash and was trying to wrap his injury with it.

“Let me do that.” Stacy offered.

“You’re too kind.” He smirked at the armoured Kurt. He tensed, reaching for his swords.

“Uh uh ah…” Bobby warned him with a shake of his head and a waggle of an iced-up finger.

“You told me…” Scott said as he entered the room. “But even seeing it…”

“Why is that one bleeding?” Jean asked.

“He and the one with the swords don’t seem to like each other very much.” Bobby shrugged.

“Gives a whole new meaning to the concept of self-loathing.” Xorn mused.

“Jean?” The young one questioned from the ceiling. Scott and Xorn jumped, neither having seen him up there in the shadows. He crawled down the wall and moved silently to the redhead’s side, crouching there, looking up at her with imploring eyes.

“Looks like you’ve made a friend.” Bobby smiled.

Jean looked into those golden eyes. She didn’t want to read his thoughts, but sometimes it was hard not to pick up on certain things. She could feel his pain, his confusion, his uncertainty.

“Theories?” Scott asked, all business, as usual.

“Bobby suggested a physical splintering of some kind.” Warren suggested.

“Three parts of the whole?” Scott arched a brow behind his visor. “Possible…”

“If you discount the fact that Kurt, Henry and Jonathon left the grounds several hours ago.” Xorn said softly. All heads turned to the helmeted mutant.

“Come again?” Warren frowned.

“I think they went to see that new Steven Spielberg movie…” He said. “They should be back soon…”

~~~~~~

“I don’t know how the Professor is going to react to this.” Kurt said, glancing over to Hank in the passenger seat, completely unaware of the goings on back at the mansion. “Between you, me and Logan there is already enough hair to vacuum out of the rugs.”

“So he probably won’t even notice.” Hank smiled as he absently stroked the purring buddle of multi-coloured fur curled up on his lap. “Besides…pets have been proven to be highly therapeutic.”

“True…and we could always dye her blue…” Kurt agreed. “And it might be good…the X-Men have never had a pet…”

“What about Lockheed?” Hank suggested.

“I would not want Lockheed to hear me suggest he was a pet.” Kurt smiled.

Hank looked back to where Jono was half sitting, half sprawled in the backseat. His foot tapping to the tinny sound of his personal stereo the only indication that he was still awake. It had been Hank’s idea that they take in a movie. After all this time, Jono still didn’t feel he was part of the team, and Kurt had been through so much lately he needed something to take his mind of things, even if it was just for a little while.

Hank was worried about his fellow blue-furred mutant, everyone was. He had hoped to get Kurt talking about things, but he had remained stubbornly tight-lipped. He could see now why he was such good friends with Logan. Both were there to help anybody else through any sort of personal trauma, but when that trauma was their own they just locked it away…

~~~~~~

Jono hadn’t bothered to turn off his tunes as he followed his blue-furred companions into the mansion. It wasn’t like he didn’t know the way…

“Well…what do you think of your new home, Miss Kitty?” Hank asked the cat now perched on his shoulder. It mewed in response.

“You have got to come up with a better name than that.” Kurt shook his head.

“How do you know that?” Scott’s voice came from the commons room.

“They asked me along…” Xorn’s voice replied.

“Think they might be able to figure this out?” Bobby asked.

“Sounds like something is amiss…” Hank ventured.

“As long as it’s not a Miss Kitty…” Kurt said as they headed for the commons room, the tinny sound of Jono’s stereo following in their wake.

“Blimey!” Was all he could think of to say as he entered the room.

“Couldn’t have said it better myself.” Hank agreed.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Kurt demanded of the cowlicked Kurt.“It’s been a while, hasn’t it mein freund?”

“You KNOW this guy?” Warren asked.

“We’ve met.” Kurt confirmed.

“Who is he?” Scott asked.

“He is a cross-time representation of me.”

“What’s to say YOU’RE not a cross-time representation of ME?” He countered.

“Because it’s his world you fascist sleazebag.” The armoured Kurt snarled.

Kurt arched a brow at his rather knee-jerk reaction. “The other two, however, are a mystery to me.”

“NIGHTCRAWLER!”

The sudden and very commanding voice caught everybody’s attention. Everybody’s that is except the one that was actually being addressed. Though it was impossible to tell behind the mirrored shades, it could almost be sensed that he rolled his eyes.

“If it isn’t Captain Killjoy…” He muttered under his breath. He turned then to the sound of the voice. “Hauptmann Englande!” He beamed. “So good to see you…”

The massive, grim-faced blonde man just glared at him.

Warren did a bit of a double take at the sight of him. Brian Braddock, or at least a version of him…brother of…

He closed his eyes…he didn’t want to think about it.

I wasn’t the one who commanded me to teleport a bomb out of the Fuhrer’s bedchamber!” He countered. “‘We must protect the Fuhrer…our lives are nothing in comparison to his…’” He gasped as a single hand clamped around his throat.

“Release him, Englande!” Another voice commanded. He glared at the speaker but relented. The cowlicked Kurt clutched his neck as he began to cough. A beautiful blonde woman stepped from behind him, his massive form completely hiding her from the others.

“Meggan?” Kurt arched a brow.

“Kurt!” She beamed, hugging him fiercely. “It’s so good to see you!”

“You’re looking well.”

“So are you…”

“How’s Brian?”

“Good…busy, but good…”

“Who the hell is that?” Stacy whispered, leaning towards Bobby as the pair made small talk.

“Meggan…” Bobby said. “A former team-mate of Kurt’s…”

“She was an X-Man?”

“Nope…Excalibur…sort of a sister team…based in Europe…” Bobby corrected.

“We have sister teams?”

“You really should read the files, Stacy.” Bobby told her. “We’ve got a lot of history…”

“So, what brings you here?” Kurt asked.

“There was some kind of…hiccup…that’s what Brian called it…with the energy matrix…caused quite a bit of a kafuffle across the continuums…super-charged some of the inhabitants…especially those closely connected to Brian and myself…”

“Like me…” Kurt surmised.

“Yes…these three must have been in a teleport at the time…and it caused them to cross over through dimensions…”

“So you’re here to take them back?” Scott asked.

“Yes…” Meggan confirmed. “We wouldn’t even have been aware of it if Hauptmann Englande hadn’t told us of his Nightcrawler’s disappearance…”

“Wonderful…” The mentioned Nightcrawler muttered.

“And having four Nightcrawlers existing in the one reality at the same time could prove extremely dangerous…”

“How so?” Warren asked.

“It could totally unravel the very fabric of the universe.” Meggan said simply.

“I think we should try to avoid that.” Bobby offered by way of opinion.

Meggan crouched down by the young Kurt, smiling at him as she gently lifted his head to look into his eyes.

“What happened to him?” The armoured Kurt asked, genuine concern in his voice.

“He was the first…recruit…of the newly re-established Weapon X program…” She pushed up his sleeve to reveal the brand emblazoned on his arm. “Fourteen years old…stolen from his family…his powers forcibly enhanced to make him the perfect killing machine…” She looked sadly into his golden eyes.

“The memories of what he suffered still haunt him…” She looked up, pointedly, at Kurt. “I fear for his sanity if he doesn’t seek the help he needs…”

“Sounds like his world is not so dissimilar to mine…” The cowlicked Kurt said.

“Really?” Warren arched a sceptical brow.

“Do you honestly think I was well treated as a child?” He countered. “The Third Reich favours blue EYES and golden HAIR…not the reverse.” He moved over to his young self. “In time, he will learn to hide his scars…to bury his feelings…” He looked at the other two Kurts. “Like the rest of us…”

Hauptmann Englande slapped him on the shoulder, hard enough to make him winch. “You have said enough!” He growled in his pointed ear.

Meggan moved to the armoured Kurt. “Kurt Darkholme…” She addressed him, looking for clarification.

“Darkholme?” The native Kurt questioned.

“Raised by his mother…” Meggan began.

“Raised by Mystique?” Bobby echoed quietly. “No wonder he’s such a hard ass…”

“In a world where Charles Xavier never lived to form the X-Men…who in turn were established by Magneto. A world that was lorded over by Apocalypse…a dark world…a harsh world…a world that no longer exists…”

Kurt Darkholme lowered his head as he thought of his friends…now long gone.

“What are you going to do with him?” Scott asked. “If he has no home to go to…”

“I’ll take him with me to Otherworld…” Meggan said. “I’m sure Brian will find something to do with him…”

“You could form an Otherworldly Excalibur.” Kurt suggested with a smile.

“That’d be nice…” Meggan agreed. “Be like old times…”

“Excalibur?” Kurt Darkholme frowned.

“I’ll explain later.” Meggan smiled at him. He looked like he was going to say something, but decided to hold his tongue. She offered her hand to the young Kurt, using her empathic abilities to sooth his skittishness.

Hank’s cat, attracted by Meggan’s empathically earthly presence, wound about the metamorph’s ankles. “Well, hello there…” she said as she reached down to scratch its ears. The young Kurt said something to her as he ran a hand along her back. She frowned, looking to Kurt for a translation.

“He said she’s as colourful as a tapestry…” He smiled.

“Tapestry, huh?” Hank stroked his chin thoughtfully.

“It’s better than Miss Kitty.” Kurt shrugged.

“As much as I’d like to stay…” Meggan said to Kurt.

“The longer you stay…the greater the risk to life as we know it…” Kurt finished for her.

“Yes…” She smiled. She hugged him again. “Take care of yourself, Kurt…find your smile…” she whispered into his ear.

“Can’t keep anything from an empath, huh?”

“Of course you can…” she countered. “If you can hide it from a telepath you can hide it from an empath…but you can’t hide it from a truly close friend…” She kissed him gently on the cheek. “Take care…”

She broke away from him, with a smile. Before she could begin gathering up the various Kurts, Stacy moved towards her, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. But then, she didn’t know Meggan was an empath. The elfin beauty knew just what was on her mind.

“You know both of them, right?” Her eyes flicked between the cowlicked Kurt and her own world’s version.

“Yes…” She smiled.

“Just how much alike are they?”

“From what I can gather…” Meggan began as she leaned in close. “They both know how to please a woman…” She gestured towards her former team mate. “But only that one knows how to treat a lady.”

Stacy arched a brow.

“Pity he’s a priest, huh?” Meggan beamed, then moved to gather the wayward Nightcrawlers. She called upon her powers to transport them all to Otherworld…and in the blink of an eye, they were gone.

When all was calm again, Stacy looked at the faces of the X-Men around her. Apart from Jono and Xorn, her fellow newcomers, none of them seemed too perplexed by what had just happened.

“So…” she said, breaking the silence. “You guys are okay with all of this? You don’t find it the least bit strange?”

“We’re the X-Men, Stacy…” Bobby smiled at her. “We call this Tuesday…”