Disclaimer: you're smart enough to figure it out, aren't you?

A/N: There's going to be a lot of deviation from here on out, because I've decided to minimize the time P&F originally spent dealing with the AU of Dreamland, which I admit was a mistake on my part. I will be keeping about 50-75% of the original material in, because I can't stand taking it all out, seeing as I need my horse fix per story.

The Celestial Mare

Shadowcat crawled to the base of the stairs and lay curled there, her hands clutching the hideous neck wound and sobbing quietly in the sooty, deaf darkness. The pain was almost overwhelming. She knew Kurt had bitten her, and she knew that Kurt had bitten the other two people in the closet. She knew Kurt had attacked Wolverine, killed that little boy in the Festhall, caused the explosion, and made the streets run with blood. Kurt was a killer. A demon. No denying it.

There are times when humans seem to draw on all their last reserves and something more to keep them clinging to life. This was one such time.

In the dark, suffocating closet, there was a spark of life. Thought dead by both Shadowcat and Kurt, Jimaine stirred and brought her hands to her neck and near collapsed into near-death again. Her neck was painfully raw and open, and there was rough dried blood around the edges of the wound. Jimaine managed to concentrate enough to just barely heal her neck and scoot over to Stefan's inert form.

,,Stefan . . . Stefan, bitte, aufwachen," 'Stefan . . . Stefan, please, wake up,' Jimaine whispered hoarsely. Jimaine picked up her brother's hand. It was slick with blood and ice cold. Jimaine's head dropped to her chest. She put her fingers on his neck, on an uninjured pulse point. She felt no pulse. Sighing with tears thick in her raw, new throat, Jimaine focused her magic on Stefan's wounds and healed them. She felt for a pulse again, but his neck was still.

,,Du, Dämon, was hast du tun!" 'You demon, what did you do!' Jimaine murmured, the overwhelming sadness sapping all emotion and energy from her voice though she cursed the hellish, inhuman creature she'd once called her brother. Under Jimaine's other hand, Stefan's fingers twitched slightly. His eyelids fluttered and his mouth opened.

,,J-jimai-aine?" Stefan asked weakly. Jimaine cried tears of happiness as she rested her head on his chest, arms wrapped around his shoulders.

,,Du Lebst," 'You're alive,' Jimaine sniffled. She pulled back and stroked his hair softly.

,,Ja, ich Lebe," 'Yeah, I'm alive,' Stefan whispered. ,,Nur bei dein Hand," 'Only by your hand.'

The two siblings sat there in the closet in the dark, fearing the demon would return, but not very much caring, because both of them were alive.

As Jimaine and Stefan huddled in the closet, Shadowcat lay broken at the foot of the stairs, unaware of Wolverine, wounds healed, coming to find her. So far, he had checked every apartment for her, then realized she could follow her scent trail. He finally arrived at number 6, and pushed open the door. There were traces of Kurt's scent here. And huge, huge amounts of blood. Shadowcat lay on the ground in a small ball.

"Kitty!" Wolverine yelled. Shadowcat didn't hear anything. She kept rocking slightly and moaning quietly. He reached out and touched her shoulder lightly. She leaped up and pressed herself into the wall, expecting to see Nightcrawler crouching there, back to finish the job. Instead, she saw Wolverine. He had a large amount of dried blood down his front, but was otherwise unharmed.

"Logan?" Shadowcat asked hesitantly. The noise made her throat burn worse than hell's fire. She took one hand off her throat and pointed to her ear, grimacing at the amount of pain coursing through her neck.

"Mission – is – over." Logan mouthed. Kitty nodded. "We – have – to – find – Kurt."

Kitty thought for a moment. Then she shook her head quickly.


"It bit me," Kitty rasped, facing the pain.

"Let – me – see," Logan mouthed, pulling Kitty's hands away. Nightcrawler's upper canine teeth had put deep puncture wounds in the muscles of Kitty's neck, but his bottom ones had put grazes in her windpipe. Logan knew that a bite from that monster hurt, and sympathized with Kitty

"We're – going – to – go – find – itand – kill – it." Logan mimed determinedly. Kurt was no longer Kurt, he was something much, much less than human, and something much, much more dangerous.

Kitty looked hesitant, but nodded reluctantly. Before he opened the door and stepped out into the night again, Logan sniffed the air, pausing and leaning toward the source of the scent. He opened the closet and saw the two Germans there.

"Who're you?" he asked. Stefan looked to Jimaine.

"I am Jimaine," Jimaine said. Logan looked at her, then back to Kitty.

"Is – this – that – Jimaine – girl – you – were – talking – to – on – the – phone?" Logan mouthed. Kitty stepped forward and looked closely at Jimaine's face. Despite the dried blood on her face and in her hair, Kitty recognized Jimaine from the time long ago when Kurt had introduced them. She nodded.

"Kurt's sister?" Logan said, cocking an eyebrow. Jimaine nodded, using the wall to stand shakily. Logan took in her and Stefan's bloody necks. "He got to you?"

"Ja. Kurt deedn't reelize eet vas us," Jimaine explained. She put out her hand and helped Stefan stand. He was much taller than Jimaine, so he was easily able to lean on her shoulder.

"We're goin' to find Kurt now." Logan declared, walking down the hall to the door. He didn't realize nobody was following. When he finally did look back, though, he saw Jimaine using the last reserves of her strength to heal Kitty's neck and ears.

"Um, how do you say it, dankeh shon?" Kitty stuttered, making a brave stab at the sort of German she had heard Kurt speak. Jimaine smiled, exhaustion on her features and in her panting breath.

"Come on," Logan prompted impatiently. The three started coming down the hallway after Logan. Logan, who was following his nose on a vague trace of a scent, led the group through the dark, sooty, deathbed streets of Porthensburg.

He reached the place where the old scent of Nightcrawler lingered. It had teleported. Question was, where to?

"Where did Kurt like to hang out when he lived here?" Logan asked Jimaine suddenly. She thought for a moment, then replied.

"Zere's a cave, about halv a mile outzide ze town. He alvays used to go zere ven people vould teaze heem." Jimaine replied, breathing heavy from the effort. Logan nodded.

"Take us there."

The four arrived at Kurt's cave minutes later, but Stefan was too weak from the walk there. Kurt had attacked him the worst, and he was sweating profusely, breath coming in ragged, greedy gasps, eyes closed. Jimaine propped her brother against a tree and stayed by his side. Logan stayed with Jimaine and Stefan. Kitty was supposed to, but she had other ideas.

"Don't walk away, Half-Pint!" Logan cautioned. Kitty looked to the river the flowed silently down the cliffside near where they were. It cascaded in a waterfall into a pool that was oddly quiet. Just behind the waterfall, there was the entrance to a cave.

While Logan was looking elsewhere, Kitty started off towards a small path that led to the entrance. Kitty climbed it and saw the beautiful scene inside. There was a perfectly round cave, with a glimmering, glowing aqua pool in the middle. There was a small ledge around the outside of the pool, where Kitty could see impressions of Nightcrawler's feet.

The cave itself seemed to glow from the rock, and the pool in the middle was not crystal clear, but clouded with silver. The full moon had freed itself of its overcast shield and was shining, distorted and dripping, through the waterfall. It was a place of magic; a place of immense healing magic, Kitty could sense.

In the most shadowed part of the cavern, a small, dark, condensed shadow perched on the ledge, seemingly looking into the smoothly undulating surface of the pool. Kitty looked up around the domed ceiling and saw the rippling, tranquil patterns of the water on the white stone. The waterfall blocking the entrance didn't make a sound in this cave, so Kitty could easily hear the shadow's cries.

"Kurt?" Kitty whispered hesitantly. Her voice echoed slightly. The shadow looked up. Kurt's eyes, no longer the frightening crimson, were enough to break Kitty's heart. Filled with tears and remorse, they begged for forgiveness. She recognized that this was not Nightcrawler, inhuman and primordial, but Kurt, pained and broken. Even so, she was instinctively cautious of her predator.

Kitty started to come nearer along the ledge, forcing herself closer to comfort Kurt.

"No, Kätzchen! Don't come any nearer," Kurt pleaded. Kitty kept padding along the edge. Closer up, she could see that Kurt had been crying, and his fur was matted with blood and spiked with tears. He opened his mouth in horror at how close Kitty was, and Kitty saw that his fangs had bloodstains on them.

"You can't hurt me, Kurt, I survived." Kitty said. In the movies, this was the line all the girls said to their dangerous boyfriends. It usually worked. But Kitty wasn't in a movie. Kurt stood, suddenly much, much taller than Kitty. He glowered down on her, his gold eyes darkening. However, his instincts weren't taking over. His emotions were.

"How do you know zat, Kätzchen? How do you know zat I don't feel like actually keeling you? Vhere vould you go to escape me? Outside? I'd chase you down and rip you to pieces like a deer. In ze vater? You'd drown. If you stay near me, you vill die." Kurt shouted, his voice ringing in Kitty's ears. He grabbed Kitty's neck suddenly, squeezing her throat tightly. Kitty choked and grabbed at his hands, but his eyes were hard and determined.

"So I'm not going to hurt you, eh?" Kurt asked, his voice as hard as his eyes. He let Kitty go suddenly, and she fell, coughing, to the ground and almost rolled into the pool. Kurt stood, looking down on her. As she stood, though, he seemed to deflate slightly, his eyes softening.

"Kurt, I know you're in there. Just please, throw off whatever's controlling you and come out. Come back to us Kurt, we all miss you. We need you." Kitty said, her voice thick with tears. Kurt gazed into her eyes, internal battle raging. Would he follow Kitty's words and throw off the emotions, or would he ignore her and sink back into himself?

"Oh Kätzchen! I'm so zorry zat I hurt you! I keeled all zoze people, oh ze blood, ze taste I vill never forget . . . Mein Gott, ich bin ein Mörder! Jimaine und Stefan, und Margali, I just keel people! I'm a real Dämon now, oh Gott, Kätzchen," Kurt sobbed falling to his knees, throwing his arms around Kitty and embracing her tightly. Kitty recoiled slightly with reinforced instinctual fear, but patted his back comfortingly and found herself crying into Kurt's shoulder, especially at the memory of the little boy.

They separated just as three sharp claps echoed.

"Oh bravo, Kurt. So touching. Kitty, you're such a good girlfriend. Shame you couldn't have helped me. Then you wouldn't have to see this," Kitty wheeled around and saw nothing. Then, a figure on the other side of the pool rippled into sight. The blunt haircut, dark eyes, slender figure, it was Milani. She was standing on the ledge in a white blouse and black skirt and heels. Who did she think she was? How did she get here? What was she doing?

Kurt growled at her. Milani ignored this.

"If you're wondering how and why I'm here, Kitty, let me explain. I've been working for Magneto for years. Undercover at so many different high schools, and dear Lord are you children stupid! I'm twenty eight, little Kitty. Magneto sent me all over the country, looking for that one boy, Kurt. When I'd finally found him at the Xavier Institute, all my hard work was rewarded!

"Then he left. Magneto was not happy. He told me to become friends with you, to push you very gently and make you tell me where Kurt had gone. I hitched a ride here and tried to kill Kurt so many times, and one time, you got in the way, Kitty. That pipe to the head was intended for Kurt. You see, Magneto has some unfinished business with Kurt. Mystique," Milani spat the name like poison, "had to come barging in, right in the middle of his experiment. Kurt should have been dead and gone at this point, a long time ago. That's why I'm here."

From the waistline of her skirt, Milani pulled a .22 pistol. She aimed it at Kurt and cocked it, smiling too kindly for what she was about to do.

"This'll all be over in just a second," she grinned. Kitty was paralyzed in fear, screaming in her mind, I trusted you! You can't do this!

It all happened so fast. One heartbeat, Milani stood with the pistol aimed at Kurt. The next heartbeat, Kurt lay crumpled on the ledge, blood and life leaking from body as Kitty just started to comprehend it.

A shot rings out

Across the lake,

Bringer of Death

In that quiet place.

Kitty screamed and reached for Kurt's still, prone form, it seemed, in slow motion as Milani grinned and turned on her heel, fading to invisibility as the clicking of her heels on the stone faded. When Kitty reached Kurt, it was hard to tell who was more upset: Kitty, tears streaming down her cheeks, or Kurt, shot in the chest, barely clinging to the toeholds of life.

She knelt down by his side, in the pool of rapidly spreading blood, fighting her gorge again, but so far past the point of caring about blood. Kitty cradled Kurt's head in her lap, crying. Kurt looked up at her, knowing he was going to die. He had one last thing to say.

"Kätzchen," he gasped. Kitty's lip trembled. "tell everyone I loved them. I love you."

His eyes closed and his chest stopped moving. Kitty bent over his head, stroking the tears and blood out of his fur, smoothing his hair, all the while, moaning and crying with grief. All the emotions racing through her, shrieking at her, it was too much.

Very gradually, a gentle noise reached Kurt's dead, unhearing ears. It wasn't the waterfall, but something he had never heard, yet knew quite well. Soft, hushed hoofbeats. A figure crossed in front of the distorted moon through the waterfall, which parted like a curtain. On the horizon, a shimmering, silvery-blue and black figure appeared.

It grew larger and more colored as it came closer to the waterfall, going from silvery-blue to rainbow as Kurt's closed eyes picked out more details. He would have gasped if he had breath. Kitty was still cradling his head and crying, but at this creature, this moon-animal, came closer, Kurt was able to move. He stood and looked around. At his feet lay his body, the bullet wound in his front, Kitty mourning.

The creature, a shimmering female horse, was cantering over thin air. From the places where her hooves struck the air, shining stars appeared, each a different color. When the mare's feet touched the white stone of the cave floor, sparks flew. When her hooves hit the water, ripples spread.

Kitty gasped. The water was rippling as if something stood on it. What was happening? The waterfall was parted and stars hung in the air, suspended on a clear path from the moon. She thought it was a trick of her mind, a mystery of grief.

The mare slowed to a halt by Kurt and he took in all her details. Her deep, shining, ebony black coat, as neverending and unfathomable as the space and stardust she was born from, was glossy and portrayed the smooth muscles on her back and neck. Her mane and tail were made of pure gold, her mane long and silky smooth, her tail brushing the water. She had gold feathers [1] around her legs that rippled every time she took a step. Her eyes were understanding and welcoming, her face kind.

The Celestial Mare was not built to impress, but to comfort and soothe the confused, lost, sad souls of the newly departed. A soft, rainbow glow emanated from her body and there was a sweet, familiar smell like warm, comforting, vanilla about her.

Kurt's spirit, separate from his dead body, reached out a hand and placed it on the mare's shoulder. The mare nickered softly and Kurt knew what he had to do. He swung up onto the mare's broad back and entwined his hands in her silken mane. The bent her neck and touched her warm, velvet muzzle to his foot before turning around and beginning to canter off, back over the path of stars she had paved.

The motion of the Celestial Mare's gait was incredibly fast, and Kurt only had a few seconds to look back and take one final glance at the dregs of his old life before it was all whisked away.

The Celestial Mare rose quickly over the treetops of Germany, her hooves silent on the stars and air, her mane blowing gently around Kurt, making him sure he wouldn't fall from her back. She was a sweet mare, and that was why Deity had chosen her for this painful task. The mare knew her job well: comfort the poor souls, and take them to Dreamland.

Kurt knew none of this, but knew that he was scared, and pained, as the Celestial Mare broke a gallop smoothly out of the atmosphere. Kurt was going to heaven.

[1] Feathers are the long, silky hair around draft horse's hooves. Some pony breeds have small feathers, but feathers usually only appear on coldbloods and warmbloods. They're not feathers, like from a bird.