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Freedom of Choice?

As soon as the basketball court sealed itself above the Blackbird, Charles Xavier posed his request.

“Could you fetch Mr Wagner?” He asked no one in particular. “I’d like to speak with him.”

Given recent events, it had been unanimously decided that the German mutant remain behind while they visited the capitol. His features were just too recognisable. And someone had to watch the children.

He also wasn’t an X-Man. At least not yet…

“I hope he was a better babysitter than you were.” Scott glanced at Logan, not that anyone could tell with his eyes hidden behind ruby quartz crystal.

Logan’s only response was a withering glare.

As soon as the elevator from the lower levels opened in the mansion proper, they knew something was wrong.

It was quiet. Way too quiet. There was nobody chasing anybody else through the halls. The television was silent. Nobody was playing pool or any of the other dozen or so games in the rec room. True, they hadn’t gathered all the children yet, and some had gone home after the recent attack, but there should have been some sign of them.

Logan’s lip curled in a snarl. “Guess the resemblance to Mystique goes further than skin deep…” He growled, popping his claws to emphasise his mood.

Jean’s hand was instantly on his wrist. “Kurt’s not like that…” She assured him.

“Tell that to the secret service agents he took out!” Logan countered.

“He wasn’t himself…” She pointed out. “I’ve been inside his mind. He’s one of the gentlest souls I’ve ever encountered. It’s very hard not to like the guy…”

“They’re outside.” Xavier said softly, chuckling to himself. “He’s quite a showman it would seem.”


Logan arched a brow as they stepped out on to the patio. The German…what had Jean called him, Kurt…was in his element. The students were gathered in a loose semi-circle around him, tossing everything and anything they could throw at him, which he quickly sent spinning upwards into the ever increasing number of objects he was juggling.

Apples, oranges and bananas joined a variety of balls and soft toys. A baseball bat and a pineapple, complete with spiky top, danced along with them. There was at least a dozen, maybe even two dozen, objects of varying size and density arching above the blue mutant’s head.

“Uh oh!” Kurt beamed, his sharp white teeth shining brightly in his blue skinned face, his golden eyes never leaving the items he was expertly keeping in a continuous spinning circle. “Look like there will be classes tomorrow.”

There was a chorus of “Aww”s from the gathered students.

“Guten Abend, my friends.” He said cheerfully, dropping his eyes briefly to acknowledge them. “I take it everything went well?”

“Very well.” Xavier replied. “Any problems here?”

“Not at all.”

“Can you stop that?” Xavier asked. “I’d like a word with you.”

“Oooohhhh….” The kids chorused in the manner of students everywhere when one of their own was called to face the headmaster.

“It would seem I am in trouble now.” He said, a look of mock terror on his face. “Heads up!” He tossed an apple to one of the kids, a tennis ball to the next. Slowly the air began to thin as he sent more and more objects to the waiting hands of the students. The pineapple he tossed at the surly looking Logan. He caught it on his claws, growling as juice began to dribble down his arm.

“Very good, Herr Logan.” Kurt beamed. “Perhaps we should combine our talents, eh? We could make a perfectly marvellous fruit salad.” He winked playfully. Logan let out a snort of laughter. Jean was right. It was hard not to like him. His smile, his laugh, his easy going attitude…they were infectious.

He was down to the baseball bat and its matching ball. He stopped juggling, balancing the bat on his thumb while at the same time balancing the ball on the bat. He dropped the bat, catching it with his tail while the ball dropped into his hand. He bunted the ball to a student, swinging the bat with his tail, then gently flicked the bat to the boy beside her.

The kids applauded him as he took a graceful bow, arms spread wide.

“Thank you.” He smiled broadly. “I’ll be here all week.”

Scott shook his head as he walked past, tail swinging easily from side to side. The kids dispersed quickly, except for Peter, who continued to sit where he’d been the entire time, sketchbook in his hand as it always was, as if it were grafted to his fingers.

“And don’t the kids love him…” He muttered absently.

“The kids may not be the only one.” Jean arched a brow as she indicated Ororo, who had fallen into step with the newcomer. They chatted pleasantly to each other about nothing as they trailed behind the professor.

“You pull that out of her head?” Scott asked.

“Don’t have to.” Jean shook her head. “It’s all in the body language. Even a blind man…or woman…could see it.”

“That’s not funny.” Scott lowered his head.

“Mr Summers?” A small voice queried.

“Yes, Kitty?” He looked down at the young teen.

“Is that guy gonna be a new Teacher?”

He arched a brow at the inflection she put on the word. All the students knew that the teaching staff pulled double duty.

“I don’t know.” Scott admitted. “It’s certainly a possibility.”

“Oh…” Kitty said softly.

“You don’t like him?” Scott frowned.

“He’s nice…” She admitted, a little hesitantly. “Even if he is kinda weird looking. But we all saw him on TV…and in the paper. What if he, well, wigs out again?”

Scott reached absently for the back of his neck, then quickly redirected his hand to run it through his hair.

“I don’t think that’s gonna happen.” He assured her.


“So you’ve always looked like this?” Xavier was saying as Scott and Jean entered his office.

“I have never looked any other way.” Kurt confirmed. “At least not that I can remember.”

He was perched on the back of one of the heavy armchairs rather than actually sitting on it, the tail flicking about behind him. Scott realised that it was probably rather uncomfortable for him to sit in a chair in the normal fashion. It would be like sitting with your arm twisted behind your back.

“An obvious mutant from birth…” Xavier mused. “It must have been difficult for you…”

Kurt shrugged. “It could have been worse. I was accepted…even loved…for who I am.”

“By the others in your circus?” Ororo asked.

“Yes…” He confirmed softly. “For the most part…” He added so quietly that only the telepaths picked up on the merest hint of it in his mind.

“All your abilities were present from birth?” Jean asked, now in full doctor mode. Even though she was used to dealing with mutants of all ages, sizes and varieties, he was a fascinating subject to her.

“No.” He admitted. “At first it was purely physical…my appearance, agility, the camouflage in shadows…the others I discovered later…mostly by accident…or necessity…”

“And this was when you were…?” She prompted.

“I am not entirely certain.” He frowned. “Probably at about fourteen…”

“Puberty.” Jean nodded. “Like the rest of us.”

“Teleportation…” Xavier steepled his fingers. “It’s certainly unique. I’ve never come across it before.” He looked at Kurt. “You are indeed a very unique individual, Mr Wagner. One, without whom, I don’t believe our most recent…experience…would have ended at all successfully in our favour.”

The deep blue mutant lowered his head. For one raised in the spotlight he was surprisingly shy.

“I did very little…” He said softly, glancing at Ororo. Whether it was for strength or to indicate who he believed should receive the accolade for their victory, Xavier could not be sure.

‘So humble…’ Xavier smiled. ‘But then, pride is one of the seven deadly sins…’

“Don’t sell yourself short.” He said aloud. “You saved lives…and that is always a good thing. But I’ve been wondering…what are you’re plans now? What are your thoughts about your future?”

“Future?” He looked up. “I haven’t given it much thought.” He slipped from the back of the chair and went to the window in a single, graceful movement. He touched the cold pane of glass as he watched the students outside. So innocent…so fragile…

“I cannot return to the circus…” He shook his head sadly. “My face is too well known…I will only endanger them now…” He lowered his head again, gazing now at the fingers of his misshapen hands.

“There is a place for you here.” Xavier said. “One could almost say a need.”

Kurt arched a sceptical brow.

“More and more mutants are being born every day.” Xavier explained. “And more and more of them are going to be like you…” Kurt turned sharply, almost angrily. “Unable to hide what they are. It could make them morose…self-destructive…even violent…

“You are so comfortable with who you are…they could benefit from that.”

Kurt sighed deeply.

“You’ve always wondered what God’s purpose is for you.” Jean said, remembering the thought she’d pulled from his mind as she walked towards him. She placed a comforting hand on his shoulder as the bright voices of the children outside filled the quietness of the room.

“Have you considered…” She continued, gesturing to the children. “…that maybe this is it?”


Kurt sat silently on his new bed, in his new room, staring at the old circus poster in his hands. He wondered about them, not for the first time since he’d been taken from them. He had no doubt they knew about what had happened, what he had nearly done. It was worldwide news after all. But did they wonder why he’d done it? Where they worried about him? Did they wonder where he was?

Did they even care?

He placed the poster gently on the bed beside him. It was getting old now, he was surprised it had lasted at all with what it, and his other threadbare possessions, had been through lately.

He looked around his room, his new sanctum. After a life spent living in a caravan it was enormous. And a bathroom all to himself? He’d never known such luxury. He perched himself on one of the many window ledges. Xavier had given him a room on the highest floor of his palatial mansion and it afforded a magnificent view. There was a woodland area, so large that it bordered on being a forest. A wide, still lake that would look extremely inviting in the heat of summer.

But something just didn’t sit right.

He looked up at a sudden knock at the door.


“Kurt?” Ororo smiled as she peered around the edge of the door. “Dinner’s ready.” She frowned when she saw the look on his face. He looked lost…there was no other way to describe it.

“Are you all right?” She asked.

“I guess…” He said, absently gazing at the poster that still lay on his bed. The look didn’t escape her.

“Have you contacted them?” She asked. He looked at her, more than a little confused. “The circus.” She explained. “Your family.” She walked towards him where he still sat on the windowsill. “They must be worried about you.” She smiled.

“No…” He admitted. “They must be set up in Calgary by now…”

“Calgary?” She echoed. “We could have you there in no time. You could tell them in person. And I’m sure there are a few things you’d like to pick up.”

He just smiled, gratefully.


No one had been at all surprised when Ororo had volunteered to take Kurt back to the circus. True to her word, the Blackbird had gotten them there in no time at all. Finding the circus proved a little more difficult. Kurt knew their basic itinerary, but he didn’t know exactly where they were due to perform, Margali had always handled such details. And even if he did, he didn’t know Calgary at all. Ororo purchased a local newspaper when she hired a car. They searched its pages until they found a small advertisement giving them all the details they needed.

Kurt gazed at the familiar collection of tents, caravans and vehicles. He’d only been gone a few weeks, but it seemed like a lifetime. Beside him, Ororo smiled when she saw his face light up. This was his home, and it always would be, regardless of what he decided to do with his life. He was out of the car before she could even cut the engine. He turned, smiling, offering his hand to her as she walked around the car to join him. She took it, and he led her into the biggest tent.

She could see why it was called the Big Top. It was a massive space. A scattering of poles held up what must have been tonnes of canvas. Wires and riggings criss-crossed the upper most reaches, almost lost in the shadows high above them.

“This is your world?” She asked him.

“It was…” He said softly, lowering his eyes to the sand at his feet.

She was reaching out to comfort him when a shrill voice split the air.

“Hey! You’re not supposed to be in here!”

Ororo turned to see a pretty girl with short-cropped, strawberry blonde hair. The anger drained from the girl’s face when she saw the dark-skinned man that stood silently beside her.

“Kurt…?” She whispered. “KURT!” She repeated joyfully. She was across the space in a heartbeat, wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing her lips to his in a very intense kiss.

Kurt’s eyes widened with surprise as Ororo’s narrowed in a sudden anger that she just couldn’t explain.

He allowed the kiss to continue for barely a moment, then he tore his mouth away from hers with a pained, barely audible whimper. He turned his head away from them both, but not before Ororo glimpsed the tears that brimmed his eyes. She turned cold eyes on the girl, though she didn’t notice, she was still looking at Kurt. There was concern in her emerald eyes, but Ororo didn’t care. This girl had hurt him somehow. This gentle soul who could never willingly bring harm to anyone. And that only made her hate her even more.

The girl looked up then, startled by the sudden crack of thunder that sounded so close she would have sworn it was inside the tent. Kurt frowned at Ororo with concern, knowing full well the source of the sound. His eyes were shining, but there were no tears in them now.

“Kurt?” Another voice entered the fray. Kurt’s reaction to this one was totally different. He stepped towards the speaker, an older woman who bore an uncanny resemblance to the strawberry blonde. ‘Mother and daughter…’ Ororo surmised.

“Oh, God, Kurt!” She sobbed, embracing him tightly for a long moment. She stepped back and cupped his face with both hands. “You scared us to death! You just disappeared!” She hugged him again. “And then there were those awful news reports!” She shook her head where it lay against his chest. “They had to be lies!”

“No lies, Margali…” He shook his head now. “It was me…”

“Impossible!” She looked up at him. “You could never do anything like that! Not unless you were coerced somehow.”

“Controlled is more accurate.” He told her.

Ororo watched as she searched his eyes, seeing things that only a mother could.

“What did they do to you?” She demanded. “How could they even capture you?”

“They…” He began, glancing back at the girl. “I…I don’t want to think about it…” He lowered his head and Ororo could see tears again.

‘Goddess…’ She thought. ‘What DID they do to him?’

“It doesn’t matter…” Margali smiled, smoothing out the lapels of Kurt’s long coat. “You’re home now…”

“Margali…” He said softly, cutting her off. “After what I’ve done…”

“After what you were forced to do.” She corrected him.

“It would be dangerous for you if I were to come back here.” He finished. “I am too recognisable now. I cannot hide as I did before. Everyone here would be a target for those who would see my kind dead.”

“Nonsense!” She said firmly. “This is your home, Kurt. We are your family. We will protect you, defend you, to the death if necessary.”

“I fear that is what it will come to.” He said. He shook his head. “I cannot allow that.”

Margali lowered her head now. She had raised him since she’d found him, only a few hours old. He was as much her son as Amanda was her daughter. She had feared his discovery all her life. And now that it had come, she feared even more that she would lose him.

“But what will you do?” She whispered to him. “Where will you go?”

He pulled away from her now, gesturing towards Ororo who stood some distance away, but still close enough to have heard every word.

“This is Ororo Munroe…” He began.

Margali’s eyes narrowed as she stepped past the man that was the child of her heart and approached the woman he had just introduced to her, taking in her exotic features, the strength with which she held herself.

“She is like you.” She said.

“Yes.” Kurt confirmed. “She is a teacher at a school for others like me…” He smiled at Ororo. “Like us…” he added. “They have offered me a…position…”

Margali turned back, regarding him with a sceptical look. “You?” She queried. “A teacher?” He shrugged. “Of what?”

He looked at the silver-haired woman now. “We haven’t actually discussed that.” He admitted.

“Language studies perhaps?” Margali suggested.

“Language studies?” Ororo echoed. “Yes…” She smiled. “I’ve heard you speak English, German, French and Latin. Are their others?”

“Swedish…” He added to the count. “A splattering of Greek and Italian…a little Spanish…” Ororo looked impressed. “I have been a vagabond since birth. When you are that widely travelled you pick up a thing or two.”

“We are hardly vagabonds, Kurt.” Margali admonished. “We work damn hard for our living.”

“It was not my intent to belittle what we do.” He said by way of an apology.

“I know…” She smiled sadly. “It’s just your sense of humour. It’s your defence. It has served you well in the past. And it will serve you well in the future.” Her smile brightened to a mischievous smirk. “Especially if you intend to teach a bunch of children on the verge of developing what can only be described as super powers.” She reached up and ruffled his dark hair. “I know how difficult it was to contend with just one of you.” She chuckled. “The things you got up to, boy…”

Ororo smiled at the thought. As an adult he was playful, full of child-like mischief that equalled his reverent spirituality. She could well imagine what a handful he must have been in the full exuberance of pre-adolescence.

“I’m sure he’ll do just fine.” She assured Margali.


Ororo sat primly on the edge of his narrow bunk as he slowly packed his meagre belongings. Most of it was already stored in trunks and boxes, testament to his nomadic existence. Far easier to keep possessions packed away than to have them fall from the shelves when moving from town to town.

His clothes, she noted, were rather colourful, very fitting for his gypsy-like lifestyle. He had a definite preference for flowing coats and flared trousers which she could fully understand. She couldn’t imagine it was easy to dress with the size and shape of his feet. And the length of his uppermost garments no doubt helped to quell any questions about the tail. Like Rogue, he dressed in a way to accommodate his mutation.

He would stop every now and then, examining some little trinket, lost in a memory he didn’t share, and for which she didn’t ask. She tried not to look at the ornate knife he’d placed on the bed beside her. She had admired the markings on his face, on his body, and couldn’t help but wonder if this was the blade with which he’d carved them. It made her shiver slightly that he could do such a thing to himself. So she focused on the growing baggage that was accumulating around her. His entire wardrobe fit in a single suitcase, his mementoes in a single box, but his books and movie collection spilled out of several cartons.

“We’re going to have to make a dozen trips just to load your books.” She joked.

“I like to read.” He shrugged. “Not a lot to do when you’re travelling from town to town.”

“And Margali questioned your ability to be a teacher?” She arched a brow. “You must have a lot of knowledge to share.”

“It’s mostly fiction.” He admitted.

“Classic fiction.” She said, holding up a worn copy of The Three Musketeers.

“There is a reason they are called classics.” He smiled as he took it from her and placed it gently in a box along with just about every other great work of literature.

“Is that it?” She asked, glancing around at the half dozen boxes and bags.

“Not quite.” He crouched and reached under the bed, pulling out a long, narrow bag of thick, dark canvas. A deep blue canvas, almost a match for his skin. He noticed Ororo’s curiosity, knowing full well she had no idea what such a package could possibly contain. He couldn’t resist.

He flipped back the canvas to reveal a simple wooden box, well made but unadorned. He watched her as he unfastened the lid, slowly, almost reverently, opening it to reveal his most prized possessions.

The box was lined in a deep red velvet, and had obviously been custom made to house the three perfect rapiers that rested within. Had she not seen his collection of movies and novels, all with an obvious leaning towards anything with even the modicum of swordplay, she might have been surprised.

“You can use those things?” She asked warily.

“Most certainly.” He beamed. It was a talent he obviously took great joy in. “Perhaps I can demonstrate for you someday, hmmm?”

“I think I might like that.” She smiled.


It seemed the entire circus had come to see him off. Seeing some of the others who called this place home, Ororo could see how Kurt had managed to hide in plain sight for so long. They had to be the oddest collection of people she’d ever seen. She couldn’t help but wonder that perhaps Kurt wasn’t the only mutant in the troop. But Margali assured her that he was.

“Though I have my suspicions about our fire eater.” She added with a wink.

There was however, one obvious absentee. The strawberry blond was no where in sight. She had disappeared shortly after Margali had found Kurt in the Big Top. Ororo was actually kind of glad she had not come to say goodbye.

A huge, hulking mountain of a man, the circus’ strong man she assumed, wrapped his massive arms around Kurt, bodily lifting him from the ground. The blue skinned mutant winced as his grip, encircling him around the upper arms, aggravated the still healing bullet wound that he had managed to keep secret from his overly concerned adoptive mother.

“I am sorry…” The man said in an accent so thick Ororo couldn’t even begin to guess his origin. “I did not mean to hug you so hard.”

By the time he got through the line of well wishers the eastern sky was beginning to lighten. She hated to rush them, but felt she had to.

“Kurt…” She said softly. “We have to be on our way while the night is still with us…”

“Yes…” He sighed. “You’re right.”

Margali smiled at him with a mixture of pride and sorrow. Somehow she knew that he would be able to make a difference to the world where he was going. But she still hated to lose him. She didn’t say a word, she didn’t have to, as she caught him in a fierce embrace.

“Don’t you dare forget us.” She whispered into his dark hair.

“Never.” He whispered back.

“The act won’t be the same without you.” A tall, handsome blond man smiled as he slapped Kurt on the back.

“Yes.” A dark-haired man agreed. “You will no longer get lost with Kurt’s ad-libbing.”

Seeing his fellow aerialist acrobats, he suddenly noticed one was missing.

“Where’s Amanda?” He frowned.

All eyes looked to the blond. “I haven’t seen her.” He managed to squeak under the scrutiny of their gaze.

Kurt looked extremely disheartened as he thoughtfully stroked his lower lip. Margali looked disappointed.

“I can go and look for her.” The blond offered.

“No…” Kurt glanced at Ororo, then looked off into the greying sky. “We don’t have the time to wait…” Margali shook her head.

Ororo produced a business card from her pocket, handing it to Margali. “The school’s contact details.” She explained. “You can contact Kurt whenever you feel the need.” She smiled warmly.

Margali studied it for a moment. It was of simple design, elegant and refined. This school, she feared, would be a far cry from the bright and garish world her boy was used to.

She hugged him again. “Be well, Kurt.” She told him.

“And you…” He replied.


Amanda watched from her vantage point, even after the hired car was long out of sight. She sighed as she scrambled down to the ground.

“You couldn’t even say goodbye.” Margali admonished as soon as her feet touched the ground.

“Mother…” She said in a hoarse whisper. “I’m not in the mood for one of your lectures…”

“We may never see him again…” Margali began.

“You think I don’t know that!?” Amanda yelled as she turned on her mother. Margali was taken aback, both by the tone of her daughter’s voice, and by the sight of the tears that stained her cheeks. “You think I could just smile and watch him walk out of my life forever?”

“Amanda…” Margali’s voice was softer now. The concerned mother.

“I had my chance…my one chance…at something wonderful. And I blew it!” She sobbed. “He’s gone…and he’s never coming back!”

“You can’t know that for sure…” Margali said softly.

“Mother, please.” Amanda all but snarled. “Credit me with some intelligence. I saw the way he looked at her…the way she looked at him.” She lowered her head. “He used to look at me like that.”

“There is a spark there…” Margali admitted. “But it is just a spark…”

“And now he’s going to live in a palace where he’ll see her everyday.” Amanda raved, all but ignoring her mother. “And she won’t push him away. She’s not worried about what other people with think. It doesn’t matter to her that he’s a mutant, because she’s a mutant too. All she’ll see is how warm and funny and kind and sweet and wonderful he is…” She broke off, swiping at the tears that brimmed her eyes. Tears that had began as soon as she kissed him and she realised that at no time had he been interested in kissing her back.

If anything…he’d been repulsed by it.

“He’s never coming back to me…” She whispered.


“What exactly am I looking at?” Scott asked with a frown as he gazed upon the holographic projection. Two strings of multicoloured balls twisted around each other, never touching, separated by small cross strings at regular intervals. He recognised the formation. Deoxyribonucleic Acid…DNA.

“It’s Kurt’s.” Jean told him, knowing full well he knew basically what he was looking at, he just wanted to know more specifically.

“How’d you manage to get a hold of his DNA?” Scott asked. Kurt hadn’t been in their midst for very long, and they’d been busy since he arrived. There was no way she could have sat him down long enough to take a sample.

“I changed the dressing on his arm before he and Ororo left for Calgary.” She shrugged. “But isn’t it amazing?” She enthused.

“Ah…yeah…” Scott began. “It’s great…”

“Sorry.” She smiled as she realised that she was speaking above his head. Sometimes the scientist in her just took over. “Unless I miss my mark…he’s got more than one active X-gene.”

“Meaning…?” Scott prompted.

“Ever since I met him I’ve been questioning his abilities. Mutants generally only display a single ability. He has multiple gifts.”

“So do you.” Scott pointed out. “Telekinesis AND telepathy.”

“But mine are related.” She countered. “They’re both psychic in origin…they both relate to mental ability. But his…the physical mutation, his agility, the teleportation, the camouflage in shadows, the sticking to just about anything…their completely unconnected as far as I can see.” She shook her head as she tried to fathom it, and could come up with only one explanation.

“I think he’s second generation.”

“Second generation…?” Scott repeated. “But he’s an adult…mutants are still so new…how…”

“The professor…Magneto…they’re both old enough to have a child his age.” She pointed out. “And I wouldn’t rule out Logan or Mystique either.”

“Mystique?” He questioned.

“She’s a shape-shifter, Scott.” She said. “She can take on the appearance of anybody of any age. And it’s a common female vanity to look younger than one’s age.”

“And there IS a certain resemblance between the two…” Scott nodded. “And her dedication to Magneto…” He stopped in his train of thought. “God! He could be their son!”

“Maybe…” She admitted. “Though he doesn’t seem to have anything in common with Magneto. I’d need a sample of their DNA to know for sure…”

“You think we can trust him?” Scott was wary now. If the blood of either of them flowed through his veins…

“Neither one of them had anything to do with raising him.” Jean said. “And I didn’t sense the slightest hint of maliciousness when I was in his head…still…I can’t wait to get my hands on him for a more through examination!”

Scott considered her for a moment.

“Do I have to watch you with every adult male mutant that comes into this house?”

She laughed. “I’m talking in a purely scientific way, Scott.” She assured him. “Kurt’s a little too gentle and serene for my taste.”

“Right…” He nodded as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Besides…” She added. “I think Ororo’s already staked her claim on that one.”


Ororo glanced at Kurt, sitting in silence beside her. He’d barely spoken during the trip back. A complete turn around from the voyage out, when she couldn’t have shut him up if she’d wanted to. Now he was just staring at his hands where they lay resting in his lap.

“Are you okay?” She asked finally.

“I’m fine…” He replied softly.

“You’ve just left the only world you’ve ever know.” She told him. “It’s understandable that you’d feel a little…lost…” She smiled warmly, reaching over to give his arm a reassuring squeeze.

“I know it was the right thing to do.” He said. “They will be safer without me…and I can help so many others like me…” He trailed off with a deep sigh.

“It’s okay to miss them.” She said. “I guess it was easier for most of us…the world we left behind was glad to be rid of us…”

“I can’t imagine anyone would be glad to be rid of you.” He said.

She smiled. THAT was the Kurt she had grown so fond of, the flirtatious nature that at the same time was totally sincere.

Yes…she admitted it to herself, even if she wasn’t ready yet to admit it to him. She WAS fond of him. She was glad he had decided to take up the professor on his offer. He was a refreshing change to the seriousness of Scott, the gruffness of Logan, the oft times clinicalness of Jean. She knew he would bring something to the X-Men, as X-Man he would soon be, that they had been missing.

He would bring the team heart.

He noticed her look and smiled, even though he had no idea what was behind it. She smiled back for a moment, gazing into his bright golden eyes. She was sure there was a little green in them. She didn’t know why, but she began to lean towards him. His lips parted as if he was about to speak but no words escaped. She could see his sharp teeth, but they didn’t bother her in the least.

An alarm echoed throughout the cockpit, startling them both. Ororo spun back to the controls, grabbing the throttle with both hands. “We’re approaching the mansion.” She explained. “Time to disengage the auto pilot.”

He nodded as she prepared to land, which she did so expertly. They sat in silence, staring out the hanger that surrounded them for a few moments.

“I guess we’re home.” She said brightly in an attempt to break the awkward silence that seemed to have fallen on them.

“Yes…” He said softly, a sad smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.


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