Disclaimer: I do not own the X-Men. I just like to play with them. Please don't sue or steal my story. Thanks!

NOTE: In this short, Comicverse-ish story, Kurt is studying to become a priest.

A Matter of Honor

By Rowena

Wolverine had been looking forward to this moment all day. For the past month or so missions had been few and far between. As a result, the aggressive loner had been all but trapped in the mansion, forced to babysit the students while Professor Xavier, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Rogue, Beast, and Storm were in Pennsylvania attending a mutant rights conference. However, now that dinner was over and all the kids had piled into the livingroom to argue over which television show they would watch that night, Wolverine felt he was free to spend at least the next two hours in his favorite part of the sprawling mansion: the Danger Room.

He strode quickly down the corridor, his muscles itching for the workout they were about to receive. He could feel the frustrations brought on by inactivity swelling and churning within him. He almost pitied the training equipment that would cross his path.

Turning the corner, Wolverine was brought up short at the Danger Room's thick, electronic door. The display showed that somebody was already inside. None of the students at Professor Xavier's School for the Gifted were allowed in the Danger Room without adult supervision. It was called the Danger Room for a reason. An inexperienced kid caught suddenly off guard during one of the more advanced training programs could easily be killed.

Fury mingled with his building frustration as Wolverine burst through the door. Whoever the unfortunate student was who had dared to activate a training program behind his back would live to regret it-maybe.

The room was almost completely dark. From what Wolverine could see, it was set up as some kind of strange aerial obstacle course, complete with bars hanging from the ceiling on wires, almost like trapeze. The room's occupant, however, was nowhere to be seen.

"All right," he growled, the long, sharp claws that were his trademark extending swiftly from his knuckles with a smooth, metallic SNIKT. "Who's in here? If you don't answer in three seconds one of us is gonna regret it. And it ain't gonna be me."

From somewhere in the shadows far above his head, there was a sudden sound of air imploding. Wolverine felt his sensitive nostrils twitch as less than a moment later a lithe, dark figure with luminous yellow eyes appeared beside him out of thin air, bringing with him the faint scent of sulfur.

"There is no need to lose your legendary temper, mein Freund," the newcomer said, his gentle, tenor voice tinted with a soft, German accent. "It is only me."

Wolverine could feel his fury dissipating as a broad grin crept over his rugged face.

"When did you get here, Elf?" he said, withdrawing his claws and relaxing his defensive stance. "And will you turn on some lights," he added. "I can hardly see you in here, though I sure can smell that stink you left."

Nightcrawler grinned brightly as he strode over to the control panel. An instant later the large room was bathed in a stark, white light.

"Better?" the indigo-skinned mutant asked wryly.

Wolverine squinted, allowing his eyes to adjust to the sudden brightness, but his only reply was a grunt.

"In answer to your previous question," Nightcrawler said lightly, "I arrived here about three hours ago. I went in search of you, but noticed you seemed rather occupied at the time. I believe you were engaged in some kind of water-balloon fight with the students?"

Wolverine's teeth clenched in fierce embarrassment. He and the children had had a wonderful time, but it galled him to know that one of his adult colleagues had witnessed the game-a game that had ended with all the children teaming up against him as they pelted him with over-filled water- balloons. Caught by surprise by their unexpected maneuver, Wolverine had stabbed at the on-coming balloons with his claws, exacerbating his predicament and greatly adding to the children's amusement.

Nightcrawler continued, not seeming to notice his friend's discomfort. "I had no wish to disturb you, so, I thought I might take the opportunity to get some exercise. All the studying I must do at the Seminary does not leave much time for physical maintenance."

Wolverine nodded. "Well, now that you're here, you can help me watch the little punks until the others get back tomorrow. I don't see why I should hog all the fun."

"I should be pleased to offer any assistance that I can." Nightcrawler's yellow eyes twinkled with amusement. "And you mustn't worry, mein Freund," he added with a smile, his sharp teeth a gleaming contrast to his dark fur. "I will not tell the others how you lost the water-balloon fight. It is an image I would rather treasure in private."

Wolverine scowled, but it was more for show than a display of actual anger. Despite his rather formal grammar, a result of English being his second or third language-or was it fourth? Fifth? Wolverine wasn't sure which-the German acrobat possessed a very well developed sense of mischief that Wolverine respected. Though his pious tendency to forgive any fault and his constant praying often grated on Wolverine's nerves-the man even prayed for the souls of people who had tried to kill him-he had to admit that he liked the former circus star. Even though he was currently in training to become a priest - a career move Wolverine felt he would never understand - Nightcrawler's fighting skills and astonishing agility were among the most impressive Wolverine had ever encountered.

With that thought in mind, the aggressive Canadian made his next offer. "All right, Elf," he sneered. "You asked for it. What 'ud ya say to a little sparring match, one on one, steel against adamantium?"

"Why, Logan," Nightcrawler blinked, his bright grin once again lighting up his dark face. "Are you challenging me to a duel?"

"If that's what it sounds like, that's what I meant."

Never taking his eyes off of Wolverine, Nightcrawler grabbed a sword from the nearby weapons rack with his spaded tail, tossed it into the air, and caught it in his three-fingered hand all in one swift, graceful move. Raising the sword in a mock salute, the lithe acrobat grinned fiercely, his yellow eyes bright with anticipation of the match to come.

"I accept," he said, vanishing with a sulfur-scented BAMF as the surrounding air rushed to fill the vacuum he had left in his wake.

With the acrid smell stinging his nose, clouding his senses and rendering him unable to trace where the teleporter had gone by scent, Wolverine spun around, his claws extended, his eyes searching every shadow for a sign of his nimble opponent. Above him, he thought he saw a trapeze move out of the corner of his eye, but when he turned his head all was still. Beginning to grow angry and starting to wonder if Nightcrawler had actually teleported himself out of the room altogether, Wolverine was caught completely by surprise when, with a loud yell, his opponent emerged from the shadow of the door frame behind him, flipped over his head, and, brandishing his sword, executed a perfect landing right in front of him.

"A teleporter does not necessarily have to travel long distances in order to surprise his opponent," Nightcrawler observed with a grin, his extended sword nearly touching Wolverine's chest. "First match is mine."

Impressed by Nightcrawler's little trick-teleporting such a short distance was nearly instantaneous, the resulting sound and smell would not alert Wolverine to his new location-Wolverine nodded, acknowledging defeat. Nightcrawler lowered his sword. At that moment, Wolverine charged forward, his claws outstretched.

Nightcrawler spun, easily avoiding the Canadian's deadly punch with a move worthy of his boyhood hero, Errol Flynn. With a graceful, almost effortless flourish, the agile mutant brought his sword's point to rest against Wolverine's neck.

"The art of fencing is the art of discipline, mein Freund," the blue- skinned German admonished. "Your attacks are too wild, they leave you vulnerable to my sword. Second match is mine." Nightcrawler laughed brightly. "And to think! All this time I was worried that I was growing rusty!"

Infuriated by the laugh, Wolverine grunted, his eyes burning. "That does it, Elf," he said. "I'm not holding back anymore. Let's try this again--no rules, no niceties, just fight."

As Nightcrawler nodded his agreement with a small shrug, Wolverine charged once again. Nightcrawler stepped aside, stretching out a two-toed foot to trip him up. However, as he fell, the Canadian lashed out with his legs, causing his opponent to join him on the hard floor.

"Ooh," the German groaned, clearly in pain. "Right on the tail."

Recovering quickly, Wolverine was on his feet again before Nightcrawler had finished speaking. Taking advantage of his opponent's vulnerable position, he lunged, his teeth bared with the pleasure of his anticipated victory as he moved to pin him. However, the acrobat's vulnerability proved to be deceptive as, at the very last moment, he rolled out of harm's way. Leaping to his feet, he aimed a sharp kick at Wolverine's backside, causing his already off-balance opponent to fall on his face once again.

When the Canadian turned, he came face to face with Nightcrawler's indigo reflection grinning up at him from the well-polished blade of his sword.

"I claim the third match," Nightcrawler said. "How far is this game going to go, anyway?"

Wolverine glared, his dark eyes spitting fire. "Until I win," he growled, climbing to his feet.

"You will not beat me, mein Freund," Nightcrawler said, his tone still light but his words sincere. "You allow your anger at me to cloud your concentration. That is fine if you are fighting against a pack of oncoming soldiers or in hand-to-hand combat, but not in fencing. In fencing, discipline is key."

"So," Wolverine growled. "You want discipline. I can do discipline."

Nightcrawler shot his friend a skeptical look, but brought his sword to the ready.

Retracting his claws, Wolverine strode over to the weapons rack and chose his own sword. "This time it'll be by the book. No powers. That means that I can't use my claws and you can't do your disappearing act."


Gracing his opponent with another salute, Nightcrawler took up a traditional stance. "En guarde!" he warned, leaping into action. He launched into the offensive, his flashing sword moving so quickly that it was difficult for Wolverine to deflect his blows. Nightcrawler's concentration was complete, his yellow eyes were bright and focused, his indigo lips curled upwards in a slight, confident smile. However, Wolverine was beginning to get into the rhythm of the fight, and he had some tricks up his sleeve.

Knowing his opponent's low opinion of his skills as a fencer, Wolverine purposefully swung his sword in a wild arc that left his chest exposed, fully expecting Nightcrawler to move at once to take advantage of his vulnerability. It worked. As Nightcrawler lunged forward, Wolverine anticipated his movements and spun to the side, causing Nightcrawler to stumble forward several steps before regaining his balance. Far from being angry, however, Nightcrawler fixed his opponent with a delighted grin. Annoyed, Logan charged again, this time putting Nightcrawler on the defensive. The long-tailed mutant was forced to give ground under the force of Wolverine's powerful blows. Wolverine's greater strength seemed to be wearing down his slender opponent as Nightcrawler continued to back away.

Suddenly, the blue-skinned mutant stumbled, his arms wheeling as he fought to keep his balance. However, as Wolverine moved in for the kill, it became clear that the apparent stumble was really a feint. Nightcrawler pushed off the wall with his tail and leapt over Wolverine's head.

Spinning in place, his face a mixture of surprise and fury, Wolverine came at his elusive opponent once more. Caught off guard by the real anger powering Wolverine's determined blows, Nightcrawler's rhythm slipped slightly, allowing Wolverine to move in. His yellow eyes widened as he realized his opponent now had the advantage over him and that, in the enraged state he was in, he might possibly even injure him. In order to take himself out of harm's way, Kurt executed a daring backflip, landing several meters from his opponent. With a guttural roar, Wolverine rushed towards him, his sword raised above his head. As he brought the weapon down with a WHOOSH of savagely displaced air, Nightcrawler ducked down and somersaulted beneath his opponent's outstretched legs, coming up behind him and launching into his own attack. However, his months of physical neglect were starting to catch up with him and he could feel his arms beginning to weaken under the bone-shattering blows from Wolverine's sword. From the triumphant gleam in Wolverine's eyes, it was clear his opponent was aware of this as well. Kurt knew he had to bring the match to a swift end or else risk being wounded. In order to do that, though, he would have to make full use of his greater agility to come at the raging Wolverine from an unexpected angle.

Moving quickly, Nightcrawler crouched down and made a powerful jump all the way up to the trapeze that was hanging from the ceiling. Before Wolverine could protest, however, he had transferred the sword from his aching hand to his tail and launched himself back into the air, spinning as he fell, his momentum lending immense power to the force behind his sword-wielding appendage. Wolverine's blade went flying from his hand as Nightcrawler landed hard on his feet and hands on the floor beside him. With his back still turned, the victorious mutant raised his sword to his opponent's chest.

Wiping the sweat from under his dark, indigo curls, Kurt looked over his shoulder at Wolverine, panting slightly. "Fourth match is mine, mein Freund."

Wolverine stood there, staring alternately at his empty hands, then at the sword wrapped tightly in Nightcrawler's flexible tail. His expression darkened.

"I thought we'd agreed to do this by the book," he growled.

Nightcrawler stood up, his blue face glowing with spent energy, his yellow eyes narrowed in confusion.

"Is that not what we did?" he asked, bringing his tail around and replacing his sword in his hand. "Neither of us used our powers."

Wolverine shook his head. "You used your tail."

Nightcrawler was still confused. "Well, yes. My arm was getting tired and-- " He broke off as understanding dawned. Alarmed, he brought his hand to his mouth. "Oh," he said. "You do not have a tail."

Wolverine gave him an exaggerated nod. "Now you're getting it, Fuzzy."

Nightcrawler gave a small, ashamed chuckle. "Funny, but I never thought of my tail as a 'power', as you put it. Although, I suppose that, looking at it from a certain angle, it isn't much different from your claws, is it?"

Wolverine shrugged. "From a certain angle."

Nightcrawler lowered his eyes and stepped forward, holding out his sword to Wolverine.

"Then I apologize, mein Freund. I was in error. The match is yours."

Wolverine shook his head, pushing the sword back towards its wielder. "No," he said. "Keep it. We'll call it a draw."

"You are certain?" Nightcrawler asked, concerned.

Wolverine looked at the contrite man standing before him, considering whether or not to prolong his discomfort. Wolverine was used to defiance; open penitence made him uneasy.

"Yeah," he said after a short pause. Then he smiled. "Hey, you hungry, Kurt?"

Nightcrawler looked up, surprised. "Why, are you offering to cook dinner?"

"Nah. But I'll pay for the take-out. Anyone who can go for six months without training and still put me through that kind of workout deserves to be treated to a decent meal."

Kurt grinned, the awkwardness of the past few minutes completely forgotten. "Thank you, Logan. And in answer to your previous question, I am absolutely starving. I haven't eaten anything since, well, lunch."

"Then come on, Elf. We've still got a few minutes before the kids' shows are over. Let's go grab a couple 'a brews from my stash, and I'll make the call."