"In the past week I tried to assassinate the president, got shot, got hit by lightening, was tossed around in a plane for two days, and according to your Professor Xavier, was 'instrumental in the effort to save humanity'. I'm a little worn out. Not really up to any big decisions."
Dear Wolfgang –
I must begin by apologizing for the lack of information in this letter. If I told you everything that has happened I would go on and on for pages and I think long stories to old friends are best told over a few beers. I'm sure you agree. I am writing to you because I know that you will be able to pass on the news to Margali and Amanda and all the others. Please tell them that I am in America, that I am all right, and that I miss them.
I'm sure by now the news of the mutant attack on the President of the United States has traveled to Rome. And I'm sure you have noticed that despite the poor artwork, the only suspect they can identify looks very much like me. I can imagine that upon seeing this you were both relieved and shocked. Without going into specifics I will tell you that it was me, but it wasn't me. Like I said, it is a story best told in person. Needless to say, I'm pleased that I did not succeed in my attempt.
I think that I can say without fear of ever contradicting myself that this has been the strangest week in my entire life. It started with waking up in an abandoned church and ends in a beautiful mansion in New York where I am sitting now, writing to you. In between is the most amazing and horrible … "adventure" is the best word I can think of, but it is not quite right. The mansion where this story ends is owned by a mutant named Charles Xavier who teaches other mutants, mostly children, how to use their abilities and to be proud of them. It feels like a good place.
I now come to the most difficult, but most important part of this letter. I have been asked to stay. Professor Xavier, as he is called here, wishes to gather a team of people, all with "gifts" as he calls them to serve and protect humanity. It is a strange wish because mutants are persecuted here more than any other place I have been. But I understand him and have often felt the same way myself. Why is it that people clap when I am on stage and run when I approach on the street? It does not have to be that way and I think that this Professor Xavier has the right idea. It is only our actions that matter in the end. I know you hate it when I "get all religious on you", but it is not unlike what the Lord Jesus Christ tried to do so long ago; to show people that everyone had the capacity to be good inside?
I have not said yes or no yet. Like I said, it's been a very very odd week and I feel like I'm waiting for the room to stop spinning. But I am leaning towards staying, maybe not forever, but at least for a while. I trust these people and I like them (even though they don't appear to be very enthusiastic about the circus). I have always wondered what plan God had for me. I understand the value of entertainment, but I have so often wanted to do more. Perhaps this is my chance so I cannot look away so easily.
I trust you to explain all this to Margali as sometimes I think you know my heart better than I. Oh, and if you remember, please tell Lars I was hit by lightening in a church. I think he'll find it funny. I'll explain later.
As always, you and your family are in my prayers.
Your friend and favorite son,
Kurt put down the pen and flexed his cramped fingers. The pens here were all too small for his grip, but he had wanted to write Wolfgang as soon as possible. No one could tell him how long he had been gone. Who knew what his friends and family thought had happened to him? It seemed worth the discomfort to let his family know that he was safe.
There were no lights on, but the moonlight shining through the window was enough for him to see by. Kurt turned away from the small desk and looked over at his bed, the blankets still rumpled from his earlier attempts at sleep. The room was just too big. He had spent his life sleeping in trailers and tents, places where the ceilings were low and the walls close. He had never stayed in a room like this and certainly had never had such a huge bed. It made him feel exposed and vulnerable. At the same time, he hated to refuse the professor's hospitality. So Kurt had politely thanked him and for the last three nights had tossed and turned in the bed before finally resorting to curling up on the floor under it.
The students were returning and by day the house was a lively mix of children and adults. It reminded Kurt a little of his extended circus family though much more organized. Kurt spent most of his time alone, keeping trips outside his own room to a minimum so not to scare anyone. Though he had to admit, no one really seemed afraid of him here. He'd been caught walking through the hall by a group on their way to a class in the professor's office. He had expected the worst and readied himself for a quick exit, but to his surprise he had been greeted with a few hellos before they passed right by him. The only other place that had ever happened was amongst the other circus performers, but of course many of them had known him since he was an infant. They were more likely to fear his jokes than his appearance.
He'd had a few visits, Rogue and Bobby mostly. He imagined that most of the others were too upset by the loss of their colleague to worry about what he was up to. The pair had brought him milk and cookies once and another time he had helped Rogue, who was reading the English translation of Goethe's Faust, with some of the pronunciation. But these visits hardly cut into the hours of free time. Kurt was used to schedules; life had to be lived between performances and rehearsals and there had hardly seemed enough time in each day. Now he had nothing but time. He glanced at the rosary beads sitting on his bedside table, but decided against it. God was probably tired of hearing his voice at this point.
Instead Kurt decided to take advantage of the late hour and explore. He was shirtless so he pulled on his shirt and vest. He didn't need his coat, but he usually didn't like wearing clothes where he couldn't hide his tail unless he was very comfortable with the place. He didn't quite feel ready and so he pulled it on as well. He swiped his rosary off the table and put it in his pocket.
The upper floors of the house were quiet and Kurt gently padded down the stairs to where the common spaces were. He could hear voices in one room, but he realized it was a television. Curious, he peeked through the door. He couldn't see anyone so he walked in. The only television Kurt had ever seen up close belonged to Wolfgang. No one else in the circus had one and Wolfgang's television had been much much smaller. It had terrible reception, but that didn't matter since they never watched anything but tapes on it.
"Going somewhere?" A voice asked out of nowhere.
Kurt jumped in surprise. A bespectacled boy was staring at him over the back of the couch. Kurt looked down at himself. He could see how one would think that. "Uh, no." he said. "I'm just looking around. I thought everyone was sleeping."
"They are. Everyone, but me. And you." The boy stared at him, but said nothing more. Kurt looked around, not sure whether he was expected to comment or not. "There's a kitchen through that door. And some other rooms over there." The boy pointed in various directions.
"Which room has the nicest view?"
The boy considered and finally gestured towards a half open door through which Kurt could see moonlight. "That one."
"Danke." Kurt made a motion like tipping an imaginary hat and went through the door.
It was a room with a set of large windows, each with a rather high window bench. Kurt climbed up and settled himself against the wall, his knees up near his chin. It was a good view. He could see the whole yard with its sports courts and a large expanse of lawn cut here and there by a few well-tended gardens. Off in the distance, just over the trees that lined the property, Kurt could see the ridges of the Catskill Mountains. He'd have to remember this room. It was a nice place to sit and think.
It was the damned dreams again. Logan sat up in bed and ran his hands through his hair. He thought maybe now, with Striker gone they too would go away. It seemed that it wasn't that easy. He heaved himself off the bed and out the door in a single motion.
Downstairs he made his usual small talk with Jones. Logan couldn't decide who had it worse sometimes.
"The new guy's in there." Jones said, gesturing to a long room off the kitchen that Logan was sure had once been a dining room.
"You know: Blue, with a tail, hardly talks. I guess he doesn't sleep either."
Logan scratched his chin, wondering if he wasn't the only one who in this house who dreamt about Alkali Lake. "Thanks." He said and spun on his heel toward the kitchen.
Logan's bare feet hardly made a sound on the wood floor. Sitting in one of the recessed windows was the new mutant. He was looking out the window with his chin in his hands and his knees drawn up, his tail twitching back and forth like a cat's. He turned as Logan walked up.
"Beer?" Logan held out a bottle and pulled off the cap. Kurt hesitated, seeming surprised by the gesture and it occurred to Logan that perhaps he wasn't the beer type. But after a moment, he gave a small smile and took it. For a few minutes no one said anything. Logan leaned against the wall and stared out the window. He hated starting conversations. At least Charles knew what he was thinking and could cut right to the chase.
Kurt took a sip and then stared at the bottle, frowning. "I can't believe Americans call this beer." He said.
"Believe it." Said Logan. "But, that's what happens when you ask a Scott to pick up a case of beer."
Kurt laughed. Those two really didn't like each other, but at the same time they definitely seemed to enjoy goading each other. And Scott seemed like such a straight arrow, he must have been out of sorts indeed if Logan had convinced him to buy him a case of beer. "It's better than nothing." Kurt said.
Logan didn't think he could make much more small talk about beer. He took a breath. "Look, I wanted to thank you, you know, for what you did for Rogue. I don't think I could have lost the two of them…"
Kurt shook his head. "It was nothing. I only wish I could have done the same for Miss Grey."
"Well, you tried. It was her choice even if I don't understand it." Logan trailed off.
Kurt opened his mouth to explain the nature of sacrifice, but thought better of it. Logan didn't look like the kind of guy who wanted a sermon. "Is that why you're awake?" He asked instead. "Thinking of her?"
Logan shook his head. "Dreams. I get them every night. That damn lab, things I can't quite remember, things I want to forget. What about you? Do you dream about…" Logan looked down at his hands, unconsciously rubbing his knuckles. When he looked up he saw that Kurt had shifted so he was no longer looking out the window, but facing him.
"I dream about the White House." He said simply, but it wasn't entirely true. The images Jean Grey had brought to the surface of his consciousness also haunted him. But, he didn't want to mention her, not to Logan especially. Kurt gazed out the window for a moment and then looked back at Logan. "I can't remember anything that happened to me. I don't know if I want to."
"Believe me, you don't." Logan held up an empty bottle. "You want another?" Kurt glanced down at the half full beer in his hand and shook his head. Logan left the room and returned a short while later, popping the top off another bottle and putting a few more on the windowsill.
"But you have memories from before right?" He said. "You said you were the whosiwhatsit in the whatsit circus?"
Kurt sighed. "The incredible Nightcrawler. The Munich Circus."
Logan looked slightly sheepish. "Look I'm sorry about that. I'd just been shot in the head and I was pissed off and when I get pissed I get a little… intense." He said gruffly.
Kurt laughed. "Yeah. A little." He said.
"That obvious, huh?"
"Do I have a tail?"
Logan didn't usually laugh, but he found himself chuckling. "Why did they call you Nightcrawler, uh…" he said, groping for a name.
"Right. Kurt, sorry."
"It's a little embarrassing." Kurt said.
"C'mon. How embarrassing can it be if you keep introducing yourself that way?"
Kurt closed his eyes. "It was my…" Kurt suddenly realized he didn't know if there was a word for it in English. "My mother called me that when I was a baby."
Logan spat out a mouthful of beer. "Really? So you always looked kind of…"
"Demonic?" Kurt finished.
Logan shook his head. "That's not what I was thinking."
Kurt raised his eyebrows in surprise. "It's not?"
"No. Demons are scary, but you're more like a big…" Logan ran his hand through his hair, searching for an apt description. "Like a big blue elf or something." He finished. Logan was about to make a lame apology for busting the guy's ego, but was surprised to hear Kurt laughing.
"Thank you." Kurt said.
Logan shook his head. You never knew what someone was going to take as a compliment nowadays. If someone had called him an elf he would have cut him in half. He cracked open another beer and to be polite offered another to Kurt. Kurt shrugged and took it.
"I can't remember anything." Logan said. "Not even my name. I don't even know if Logan is my first name or my last name."
Kurt was silent.
"I thought I'd find answers." Logan continued. "Instead I have more questions. Don't you want to know what happened? What they did to you?"
"Why? So I can have revenge?" Kurt asked.
Logan nodded. "Maybe. That's what I wanted."
Kurt shook his head. "It would not change what happened. It won't make me forget what I nearly did. Instead I would like to thank the man who shot me."
Logan took a sip of beer and knitted his brow. "You are really strange." He said.
"You mean in ways beside the obvious?" Kurt asked. "I suppose so. But if I avenged all who have treated me unfairly, I would be killing nearly everyone. I don't believe in revenge."
Logan grunted. Kurt wasn't sure if it was in agreement or not. "I think about the people who treated me kindly instead." He continued. "They're much more important." Kurt stared out the window again. How long had he been away from his family, his friends? Even if he only counted the days he could recollect, it was still longer than he'd ever been apart from them. Thinking about them, out there somewhere in the world, and him here, maybe for a long time made his eyes start to water. Logan didn't seem like the kind of guy who dealt well with crying blue skinned mutants so Kurt blinked them back. "I miss them so so much." He said.
Logan set his beer down on the windowsill. "Charles wants you to stay doesn't he?"
"I need to think about it." Kurt said, "In the past week I tried to assassinate the president, got shot, got hit by lightening, was tossed around in a plane for two days, and according to your Professor Xavier, was 'instrumental in the effort to save humanity'. I'm a little worn out. Not really up to any big decisions."
Logan gave a nod of understanding. "Well, you seem like you know how to keep your head in a fight."
Kurt thought about the only two real fights he'd ever been in. The first he'd been outnumbered three to one and had been thoroughly trounced and the second he'd taken out several dozen armed secret service agents by himself. It was a rather uneven track record.
"You should fire your tailor though." Logan said, gesturing at Kurt with his beer. Kurt looked at his clothes appraisingly. What was wrong with them? They looked fine to him even if they were a little threadbare.
"Yes," he said, glancing up with a mischievous smile, "And afterwards I will fire your barber."
Maybe it was the beer or perhaps lack of sleep, but Logan found himself laughing again. It wasn't a smirk or chuckle; he was actually struggling to keep the beer he had just drunk from spraying out of his nose.
"Are you always like this?" Logan asked when he had composed himself.
Kurt shook his head. "I'm usually much much worse. You have no idea the kinds of practical jokes you can play when you can teleport."
"Well, just don't try any on me." Logan said.
"Why, are you afraid you might start laughing again?" Logan looked murderous and Kurt held up his hands. "Don't worry, your secret's safe with me." He hopped off the windowsill. "I should go to bed. I'll never decide if I want to save the world or not if I don't get some rest. Goodnight Logan."
Logan gave a nod and turned back towards the window. "Wait a second. Elf."
Kurt paused at the door, not realizing at first that Logan was addressing him. "Ja?"
"I hope you decide to stay."
Kurt smiled and stepped out of the room, leaving the door slightly ajar behind him. He walked past the television and the boy who watched him go but said nothing. Back in his room he hung his coat back up. As he pulled off his vest his rosary fell out of his pocket. Kurt scooped it off the floor with his tail and dropped it into his hand. He stared at it, feeling its comforting weight at the same time.
What would he do? Could he really go back to the circus after all that he had seen? He realized how safe and predictable his world had been and now knew it was artificial, created for him by Margali and later by Wolfgang. If it hadn't been for him she would have never convinced Wolfgang to buy the circus. It made him realize how protected he had been.
Kurt opened the bible he kept on the bedside table and looked inside the cover, hardly needing to look at the words he had committed to memory so long ago.
"Never forget that your uniqueness is God's gift to you. However you chose to use it is how you will love and serve him best. – Your friend, Hans Dietrich"
What had that other mutant said? The one who he couldn't help noticing looked so much like him. "Because we shouldn't have to." What if there could be a world where people weren't afraid of him? Where he wasn't limited by his appearance? Where he could be anything he wanted. What if he could help make it that way? The safety net had been in place long enough; it was time to take it away and see if he could still perform without it. Kurt knew things wouldn't be easy, but his choice was made. Whatever happened next was in God's hands. He sat down at the desk again and pulled out his letter to scribble a tiny postscript at the bottom.
When he crawled back into bed it suddenly didn't seem so foreign to him. He was safe here. This was his room and he was home.