Merry Christmas, Diana and Caitlin dear. I haven't forgotten you at all, despite appearances. You know full well that Kurt and Co. aren't mine, except for Spirit, of course. I've designed this little spin-off ficlet to stand on it's own, so that if I post it on people can read it without reading the main story about her.
And a note to readers: As in the movie nobody in the mansion is said to be Jewish, I say that there were no Jews at the school, for purposes of the story. If in the comic-book universe someone from the mansion is Jewish, I apologize for my ignorance, as I have only seen the movies.
The mansion was enough of a familiar place by that Christmas that I did not have to see where I was going to teleport there, for I knew it like the home I never had before. Yet the students constantly coming in, they did not know my habit so well, and were often startled by my appearances. I hadn't meant to sneak up – I never do – yet somehow I usually end up doing it. My intentions turn astray so often that at times I would despair. That is, had I not known the Lord's wisdom in seeing into our hearts, I would.
In any case, when I went to take a look at the main living room, long after the children had gone to bed, I startled a student there already. It was Myra, known to us as Silent Spirit, due to her inability to make or hear any noise other than that of departed souls and herself. This may have been why I heard no exclamation, though she jumped. I could see she forgave me in her all-black eyes, reflecting the electric candles.
"What are you doing here, Spirit?" I asked the little gray-furred one. Because we were the two strangest-looking residents in the mansion, there was a kind of kinship between us. I had appeared on the couch, but moved down to sit on the carpet where she crouched.
Her reply was written, as usual, but I had to strain my eyes to see it, for the only lights came from the giant Christmas tree, towering over the packages tumbling over one another. For the same reason as you, Kurt. I had asked her to call me by my first name when not in class. I wanted to look at the decorations. The light level is perfect for me just now. This remarkable child also had night-vision, I might mention, one she was unable to control. It forced her to wear sunglasses in the daylight.
I replied moving my lips very clearly and slowly, so she could read them easily, as she could not hear my voice. "This is the first place I had ever shared a Christmas tree, so it interests me very much."
She nodded and wrote, Dad says we had one every year before he died. Do you know what the lights stand for? Spirit pointed at the white, glowing electric bulbs winding their way up the tree. I remember it was Logan who cut it down that year, and the delight the students had in decorating it.
I thought for a moment. "The light of the world?"
Another nod. It's strange, that light is such a blessing, yet for me it can sometimes be a curse. I was thinking about that. Same with hearing angels sing, for the dead become angels, in their way. I should know. But there are good and bad angels, and at times it's scary…do you realize that in the Bible, those who see angels must be told not to fear? Sometimes I think it's because too much glory is too strong for us, and we must be made stronger to endure it. Like how I'm too sensitive to light. I used to think it was because I was evil in some way, but now I find it's just too good and precious. It took her quite a while to write this all out, and when she had finished, more time for me to read it, as English still was not as easy for me as I would wish back then.
"You sound as though you have stored this in your heart for very long. Do decorations mean so much to you?"
Instead of answering, Spirit nudged me and pointed at a red and white striped candy cane, out of her reach. I plucked it off for her with my tail, forgetting as usual that my arm could make it there as well. She smiled and took it, turning it over in her furry hands. The teenager was whispering something to some unknown listener, and had a reply.
Presently she wrote something down again. White for purity, red for blood. The shape of a shepherd's crook, for the first of the common people who came to see the holy child. Though others must have come too, don't you think? It's just that shepherds tended to be outdoors at night. Unconsciously she began to lean slightly, ever so slightly, on my shoulder, as I read her words. I would have edged away if she had not treated me the way she always did, like an uncle or stepfather. Being a teacher here required me to be a sort of parent to the students, especially those who felt alone in the world, or cut off from it. Like her. I continued reading.
There was a tree in the orphanage where I stayed before I came here. I didn't get to sit and look at it, though, since visitors would come to put presents there for the orphans, and they might see me. The staff didn't want my existence known. I just wanted to look at it by myself for a little. There's a magic in it.
The writing ended there. Spirit stared at my face intently, waiting for a reply. "I never knew Christmas ornaments that weren't part of the Nativity had so much to do with Christ."
She shook her head, as though to say she didn't either. Then Silent Spirit stood up and walked towards the curtains of one of the two windows, opening them. A little wooden Nativity stood on the windowsill. Carefully she lifted out the little carved manger, and returned to her seat next to me to take back her notepad and write again.
I couldn't really call myself a Christian, as you do, Kurt, since I've never heard Jesus, and never went to church or anything like that. I realize it's strange, me talking to the dead and all, and not having a true religious affiliation. There's one thing, though, that makes Jesus stand out from the other figures. Something that makes me feel like, if that man truly was what he said he was, he cared about people like us too. She didn't capitalize He, which made sense, considering her lack of belief.
I stopped there. "People like us? Mutants? What made you realize it?" It had personally taken me many years of prayer to feel that way. My young friend tapped the notepad again. I read on.
What struck me was that he was said to have these amazing powers, healing people, stopping storms, and walking on water. But it only made some people believe his story of being divine. Everyone else hated him for it. They thought he was evil or possessed by evil, and so they killed him. It's not very different from your situation, or mine either, or anyone else's here. We could do such good with our powers, and many of us have done good with them. You saved Rogue, she told me, with your power; Storm went back to her home country to end the drought and save the people who had hated her; Wolverine protects us…so much good. But a lot of people are scared of this, and some would kill us if they could.
By the time I finished, Spirit had already replaced the little baby figurine onto the windowsill. She curiously opened the curtains of the other window, then motioned me to come look.
"It's a menorah," I said, surprised, upon seeing the little golden stand of candles behind the drapes. "But nobody here at the school is Jewish, so far as I know…"
My student shrugged. She looked around for her pen and paper, but realized I had left it where we had been sitting, so she wrote her answer in the mist covering the glass.
I think the Professor put it there. For a friend.
It took a moment for me to understand. "Do you mean –"
The girl happened to look at her watch just then, though, and seemed to be astonished by the time. Goodnight, she mouthed to me, and was gone before I could finish my question. She did things like that; coming and going without warning.
This all happened years ago, and Spirit left the school long before now. Sadly the world is a difficult place for someone so different from the majority – I should know – and she did not live long afterwards. She wasn't particularly special, out of all the young mutants I've met, but she did have a unique way of looking at things, born of her silence and thought. It is for that reason I miss the child who had come to us when only thirteen, and had nothing in the world but herself and us.
And it is because of her that, every year, on Christmas Eve, you may find me sitting in front of a Christmas tree, wondering why simple holiday symbols can mean so much to us all.