"...and with an atomic weight of approximately 16 grams, Oxygen is without doubt the most vital element in the world for our survival. Without it, we..."

Kurt willed his eyes to remain open. It wouldn't do to fall asleep in the middle of class, no matter how tired he was. However, the science teacher was not helping; right now, Kurt was having difficulty inhaling oxygen while staying awake, let alone learning about its atomic weight.

It wasn't that he wasn't used to being an early riser. Before he came to the Institute, he'd been getting up at the crack of dawn, or earlier, in order to find food for the day. It was just that he was also used to keeping his own time; if he was hungry, he ate. If he was thirsty, he drank. If he was tired, he slept. It worked for him, always had. He just wasn't used to keeping a schedule, that was all.

Well, that and Logan's idea of early-morning training. He vaguely recalled how it had started; Logan had been impressed with Kurt's fighting capabilities, and had decided to take the blue mutant under his wing. Whether Kurt liked it or not. Now, a 5:00am wakeup was a three-day per week thing. He'd joined the institute over six months ago, and it had been fine then; now that he'd begun going to Bayville High with the other students, it was getting harder.

Which, of course, led to his current problem. Professor Xavier had decided that Kurt would not be able to go to a public school until he'd learned to live amongst people who weren't as open-minded as the population of Heirlegart, his onetime home that was now nothing but old rubble and graves. After his years in Genetex and his time as a hermit in the mountains, Kurt had forgotten how to live with other people at all, let alone these rather naïve Americans. It had taken almost four months before he'd been judged safe to go out in public, and that didn't count the six weeks beforehand when he didn't have the holowatch that Charles had given him. As a result, he'd been going to the new school for only a few weeks, and was considered strange by most of the student body. He couldn't afford to make any mistakes.

"Mr. Wagner? Are you in there?"

Kurt snapped out of his reverie to see the entire class, including the teacher, watching him.

Ja, he thought. Mistakes just like that one. He grinned weakly.

"Er... what was the question, mein herr?"

The teacher put his hands on his (ample) hips. "I asked if you were awake."

Kurt grimaced. "Sort of?"

The teacher held out a small note. "Well, maybe if you deliver this note to Principal Darkholme, you'll be able to wake up properly, hmmm?"

Kurt cursed under his breath as he walked to the front of the class and retrieved the note. Nodding to his friends sitting around his now empty desk, he left the room and walked off toward the Principal's office. Behind him, a steady drone started up again.

"Chlorine, with the chemical symbol Cl..."

Raven Darkholme looked at the note in her hand, then returned her attention to the young man sitting opposite her. "You fell asleep in class?" she asked.

Kurt shook his head. "Nein. I almost fell asleep in class. Herr Lees sent me here before I nodded off completely. He says that you are to help me to stay awake." While Raven blinked at that instruction, Kurt concentrated on keeping a straight face. One of the good points of having English as a second language, he reflected, was that one could make statements like that to total strangers and get away with it.

Raven put the note on her desk. "That is not my responsibility, Mr. Wagner. I would suggest that if you cannot remain awake in school, you return home until you have had all the sleep you need." She picked up the telephone on her desk. "Who are you staying with?"

"Herr Xavier," replied Kurt absently. Since he had no reason to suspect Raven of even knowing Charles personally, he missed her flinch at the name. Raven recovered her composure.

"You are staying at the Xavier Institute?" she asked carefully.


"Hmm." Raven replaced the telephone's receiver. "Well, have my secretary call one of your guardians to come and collect you." Kurt rose to comply, but as he did so, Raven spoke again. "If you have any other problems, come and see me. For now, try and get some sleep."

Kurt shrugged. "As you wish, Frau. May I be excused?" Raven nodded and Kurt left the room. After the door closed, Raven picked up the phone once more and pressed a button on the speed dial. It was answered on the second ring.

"Erik?" she asked.

"Yes?" came the deep voiced reply.

"You're going to want to hear this..."

Kurt and Ororo walked into the room, the former giving off a jaw-cracking yawn as he entered. Logan and Hank looked up.

"Gettin' tired, Elf?" Asked Logan. "Hell, if you can't handle a little workout before school, all you gotta do is say so."

Kurt waved one hand at him. "Give me a few hours sleep and meet me in the danger room. I'll show you exactly how much trouble I have handling it, Herr Logan," he retorted.

Hank grinned, but didn't continue that line of conversation. "Is the school aware you've left for the day?"

"Jawohl," confirmed Kurt. "Frau Darkholme sent me home during Chemistry since I couldn't stay awake."

Ororo broke in. "Then I would suggest that you get some sleep, don't you think?" Kurt nodded tiredly and vanished in a small implosion of air. Ororo turned to glare at Logan. "Happy?"

Logan blinked. "Wha?"

"You've been running the poor boy off his feet. It's no wonder he's exhausted!"

Logan shook his head. "Elf's never complained to me..."

Hank broke in. "If he's so finely trained, then it does make sense, Ororo. Lord knows we're having enough trouble with the Brotherhood at the moment, so if Kurt is capable of dealing with them, why shouldn't we use his capabilities to everyone's advantage? What's the harm?"

"Far greater than you may think, Hank," answered Charles. The others turned to look at him as he entered the room, still speaking. "Yes, the Brotherhood is causing us trouble. Yes, Kurt is most likely powerful enough to deal with them easily. Yes, if he's on our side, then it makes sense that he could help with our current difficulty." Charles stopped moving as he reached the table. "However, we are also trying to help Kurt. There are scars within his mind, Hank, scars we cannot see. What the scientists at Genetex did has damaged his mind more than you think."

Hank was intrigued. "In what way?"

"He has a fear – a phobia, almost – of being used by another. Francis Baine saw the same potential in Kurt that we do; but he abused that potential, preferring to turn Kurt into a slave rather than an ally. What Baine did is exactly what we are fighting against, why this place exists. And I will not follow in his footsteps." Charles pulled back from the table. "Besides, Ororo is right. If Kurt is so tired that he is unable to continue his studies, then we must give him more time to rest. As you pointed out, he needs no more training in combat; he's already potentially lethal. His education is further behind, and so needs more attention. Therefore, we can sacrifice the training for the sake of his schooling." With that, Charles left the room. Ororo smirked at Logan.

"So. Are you going to cancel those training sessions, now?" she asked. Logan's reply was so mumbled that she couldn't hear it. "Pardon?"

"Fine," Logan grated out. "The sessions are gonna' be cancelled. Happy now?"

"Very," answered Ororo sweetly. She left the room, leaving Hank to raise an eyebrow at Logan. Logan picked up a roll off the table and threw it at his friend.


As Scott turned the engine off, the small group got out of the car and began to walk toward the garage exit. He glanced at Jean, who shook her head with a smile as she listened to the conversation between Evan, Rogue and Kitty.

"...and it's like, so obvious, you know? She should like, just ask him and get it over with," Kitty was saying. Rogue shook her head.

"Are you kidding? Boy's so shy it's amazing he doesn't run away every time she looks at him," she argued.

"Besides," Evan added, "they're not exactly a match made in heaven, you know? The dirty-peasant-cum-lab-rat and the high-and-mighty-princess? I can't see it working..."

"Kind of like Kit and Lance," observed Rogue.

"Like, yea – hey!" Kitty scowled. "Me and Lance are meant to be!"

"...sterilized," finished Evan, who suddenly had to run ahead as Kitty assaulted him with her bag. Scott turned to Jean.

"What do you think?" he asked.

Jean shrugged. "Kurt has some issues, yeah. He definitely doesn't know how to act around Amara – he's almost scared of her. Amara's got problems of her own – she can't be seen with a humble peasant, now can she? Still," she continued, "If it works, it works."

Scott nodded at that and turned to watch as Logan drove the van into the garage, parking it next to Scott's car. The students piled out and headed toward the mansion, Amara engaged in some conversation with Jubilee as they walked. Scott glanced at Rogue and Jean, recognised the speculative looks on their faces, and stepped in front of them.

"Don't even think about it," he warned them as he herded them toward the building despite their protests. "If it works, it'll work, remember? So let it go and see if the damn thing works!" Eventually the girls gave in and the trio followed everyone into the mansion. As they walked in, the others were busily raiding the fridge.

Amara stepped back from the chaos and spoke to Ororo. "Where is Kurt?" she asked. "The others said he left school early today."

Ororo nodded. "He's asleep. He's been run into the ground by someone -" here she gave Logan a black look "- and by my guess won't be up until tomorrow morning."

Amara looked disappointed. "Oh," was all she said, and left the room. Kitty watched this and turned to smirk at the others.

"Oh yeah – she's like, so totally not right for him, Evan." Evan glared at her, but she just grinned. "Whatever. I'm going to call Lance."

And with that she left the room.