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Nightcrawler's First Class
Part Four of The Arrival Quartet
"Guten Morgen, meine Studenten!" Kurt Wagner grinned from his place at the front of the room. "Ich heiße Herr Wagner und heute lernen wir, wie man sich vorstellt."
The blank, thoroughly intimidated looks his words received from his class were priceless. Grinning even wider, Kurt leapt up onto his desk and crouched there, his tail swinging easily back and forth behind him.
"Since this is your first day of Introductory German, I will go easy on you," he said, almost laughing at the collective sigh of relief from his students. "Both German and English are known as Germanic languages. That means they have much in common, but there are also many very important differences. You will have much to learn this year, but before we get into all the little technical details of the language it might help if we got to know each other a little first. That is why, today, we are learning Introductions.
"I shall begin. Hallo, meine Studenten. Ich heiße Herr Wagner. Wie heißt du?"
He pointed one thick finger at Kitty Pryde, who was sitting in the front row. She had been one of the children he had helped rescue with Storm and Logan several months before, shortly after the tragic events at Alkali Lake. An echo of her terrified screams still rang in his pointed ears when he looked at her, but he could understand her reaction. He had to admit, if he had been awakened from a sound sleep by a bunch of menacing soldiers, spent several cold nights huddled in a modified drainpipe hide-out with a group of other terrified students, and then come face to face with a man who looked like a blue demon, he would have screamed too.
She had later apologized to him, even asking him to accompany her when she phased through the door to Stryker's Washington office to hack into his computer and steal his files on the experiments the twisted man had run on mutants at Alkali Base. Over the past few months since their confrontation with the President, Kitty had become almost like a little sister to him. And she wasn't the only one. To his delight, once they had gotten over their initial shock, many of the other students at Xavier's School for the Gifted had taken an instant liking to him--probably because of his inclination to show off his acrobatic and story-telling skills for them at the drop of a hat--and his language and film-studies classes had filled to capacity in record time.
When she realized he was pointing at her, Kitty initially shot him a deer-in-the-headlights look, but she slowly caught on to his meaning.
"Oh," she said. "You're, like, asking me my name, aren't you?"
Kurt nodded. "Ja," he nodded encouragingly. He pointed to himself and enunciated slowly and precisely, "Ich heiße Herr Wagner." Pointing to Kitty he said, "Wie heißt du?"
The girl grinned, suddenly liking this game. "Ich heiße Kitty Pryde."
Kurt beamed. "Sehr gut, Kätzchen!" he said. "Now turn to your neighbor and ask him to introduce himself to you. I want this to go all around the classroom until each one of you has properly introduced yourselves in German."
Kitty made to turn to her neighbor, then squinted her eyes and raised her hand instead. Curious, Kurt asked, "Yes?"
"Um," she said, "I know sehr gut means, like, 'very good' and stuff, but, well, what does Kätzchen mean?"
Kurt smiled. "It means kitten," he explained.
Now it was Kitty's turn to beam. "Oh, cool! I like that!" Turning to her neighbor, she said, "Hallo, ich heiße Kätzchen. Wie heißt du?"
Kurt watched as the introductions traveled up and down the rows. The students' accents were so thick as to be nearly unintelligible, but they seemed enthusiastic enough and it was a good start. Kurt twitched his tail and reflected with amazement at the irony of his present situation.
He was a teacher! The wild circus boy who had never even set foot in a school had grown up to become a teacher. It should have sounded ridiculous, but never had anything in his life felt so right.
Kurt crouched comfortably on the edge of his desk, his long toes curled around the smooth, protruding edge. This was where he was meant to be. This was why God had made him what he was. He felt the contentment and pride swelling within him as he considered the many amazing gifts he had been granted over the course of his life. His circus family. His agility. His amazing, prehensile tail. Acrobatics. The roaring admiration of audiences all across Europe. Fencing. Swashbuckling romances. The ability to teleport. Joining the X-Men. The official pardon from the President himself! His new friends. His students. And, of course, there was Storm, the stunningly beautiful, fiercely intelligent woman who was impossibly, wonderfully, inconceivably attracted to him...
There were too many blessings to count, too many to list. Sighing with thankful elation, he couldn't suppress a broad grin as he fingered the worn rosary that he kept tied securely to his belt-loop at all times.
The searching, the wondering, the anguished questioning was over. Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, Kurt Wagner had finally arrived.