Disclaimer: I do not own the X-Men

Chapter 17

Kurt lay silently in his darkened bedroom. Five days had passed since his last argument with Rogue, and he had continued to pray for both she and Kiara since then. He wasn't sure how much good it was going to do, however. Rogue did not easily forgive people, and there was no chance that Kiara would ever stick around long enough for the two of them to work things out between, but he had still resisted the urge to speak with Rogue about it on his own. Kitty was right – Kiara and Rogue were big girls. They would have to solve this on their own.

Kurt sat up in bed and sighed as he checked the watch on his image inducer. It was twelve-thirty AM. He turned to look out the window. During the five days that had passed, the rain had persisted to fall, on and off again, on three of them. Thunder had echoed consistently throughout the mansion, while lightening flashed continually across the dreary, gray sky, the sun half-hidden behind clouds the color of wet cement. Thankfully, though, it had stopped two days ago and tonight the sky was clear, save for a pale, crescent moon, he noted as he turned to look out his window, but for some reason, though, he just couldn't bring himself to fall asleep.

There was something that just kept nagging at him from the back of his mind that made him think that something important was about to happen. But what, though?

Kurt narrowed his eyes as his gaze fell on the black Lincoln four-door still waged safely in between two Westchester County police cars just down the road. He could just barely make out the silhouettes of the two women, who were still carefully pretending to be reporters inside the car. Not that anyone in the Institute bought that. Everyone knew they were lying, but no one – except for Lance and, maybe, Rogue – knew what exactly it was that they were up to. They didn't seem to be causing trouble, though, so why bother them?

Kurt sighed and fell backwards in bed. What was it that was so important that his subconscious mind felt the need to deprive him of sleep?

Kiara flew silently through the cool night air, which was unusually dry tonight, even despite it being summer and the scent of recently fallen rain flooded her nostrils. She held Mischa tightly in her arms, craddling her small, furry form close to her own scaly body. How long had it been since they had left New York City?

How long had it been since Kiara started flying?

She wasn't sure. All she really knew was that she didn't want to stop. She never wanted this journey to come to an end because if it did, then that would mean giving up Mischa, but it was no good. They had been flying for days now, and, finally, after so, so long, Kiara had been able to make out the familiar buildings and landscapes from her past that marked Bayville, New York. The most prominent of these things was the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters, which she could see from she was high on a hill beyond the building she recognized as Bayville High, her old high school.

"Mama?"

Kiara looked down to see her daughter, gazing up at her sleepily through half-lidded eyes. She frowned as she saw this – Mischa was supposed to be asleep.

"Nicht bewegen(1)," Kiara said firmly as she began to make her descent downwards. She landed on the ground carefully, directly in front of the front doors of Bayville High and set Mischa down on her feet, grateful that despite the recent rainfall there seemed to be no puddles or flooding on the ground.

"Where are we, Mama?" Mischa said, looking around as her mother adjusted the bag she was carrying. Her large, golden eyes fell on the high school, which seemed to be the only building in sight for several miles.

Kiara knelt down and grabbed Mischa by the hand. Then she turned and pointed to a tall mansion high on a hilltop at least two miles away from where they were now. "That place is going to be your home," she told her daughter. "It's the Xavier Institute."

Mischa's eyes widened as she took in the size of the mansion, which was noticeable even from where they were. "That is where Vati lives?" she said, turning back to face her mother. "But I – I – " She started to speak and then faltered. Then she pulled free of her mother's grip and scowled, suddenly angry as she realized what was happening. "Nein! I won't go – you can't make me!"

Kiara sighed and shook her head. It was unlike Mischa to throw tantrums, but she should have known this was going to happen – there was no way she would be willing to go quietly. "Weren't you just saying how you couldn't wait until we went to see your Vati, so that I would see how wrong I was and that he did love me?" she reminded her in sing-song voice, rolling her eyes at the idea.

"Nein!" Mischa said, stomping her foot and looking away from her angrily. "I lied. You lied – you will not send me there! I won't let you!"

"Mischa, please," Kiara said pleadingly, giving in to the exhaustion she felt from flying nonstop from New York City to Bayville. "They probably already know we're here. They're probably expecting you, so please don't make things harder than they already are. You know I'm not looking forward to losing you."

Mischa turned to look at her mother, and her expression wavered when she saw the look of sadness and exhaustion on her face. "Then why don't you come with me?" she asked, looking somewhat hopeful.

"Mischa," Kiara groaned loudly. Mischa must have asked her this a million times by now. When was she going to realize that she just couldn't? "I can't, Mischa. Don't you..." Her voice trailed off as she heard a sound in the distance.

It was a familiar sound. One she had heard often, but, somehow, she just couldn't quite place it.

"Mama?" Mischa said, frowning at her mother's sudden silence. "What is wrong –"

"Shh!" Kiara said, pressing her forefinger against her daughter's lips.

Then, suddenly, from out of nowhere an enormous, black eighteen-wheeled truck turned the corner at the end of the road and it was then that Kiara was able to place the sound that she had heard – squealing tires.

Horrified, Kiara shrugged the duffel bag off her shoulder and thrust it into her daughter's arms as the truck rushed towards them. "Go, Mischa," she said firmly as she did so, the fire rising inside of her. "Go to the Xavier Institute."

"What?" Mischa said, looking confused. "But, Mama, I – "

Kiara wheeled her around sharply, so that she was facing in the direction as the truck continued to rush towards them. She pointed to the Institute. "Just look at it, concentrate, and go," she said, her voice laced with anger and agitation. The fire was growing stronger within her as the truck came ever closer to them. "Teleport there – it's nothing but a straight line. I've seen you go further on The Glaucia when you thought I was asleep! Now, go!"

"But, Mama – " Mischa said, looking from her mother to the Institute and back again.

Kiara turned to face the truck. It was less than half a mile away from them. "I love you, Mischa, and that is the safest place for you!" she said, looking back at her daughter angrily. "Now, get out of here, and go!"

Mischa gasped when she heard her mother's harsh tone, her lower lip trembling slightly. Then she teleported, disappearing in a burst of pale blue fire.

The truck stopped in front of Kiara before she even had a chance to know what was happening. Then the man came at her with guns raised.

What was happening – who were these people? She tried to breathe fire at them, but one of them came at her from behind and hit her in the head with a rifle butt. She fell hard to the ground, landing on her knees, and it was then she realized it didn't matter. It didn't matter that she could breathe fire or fly or had trained in fighting at the Xavier Institute – in the state she was in now, these men would have defeated her even if she hadn't wanted to kill them.

An instant later, Kiara felt the cold steel of the collar as they latched it around her neck, and the fire deep inside of her began to dwindle. What was going on?

Kiara reached up to touch the collar, but someone grabbed her hands and held them together tightly behind her. They stomped on her back, pushing her to the ground.

Then she heard the sound of the trailer attached to the truck opening, and they wrenched her to feet by her hands and threw her inside of it.

Kiara fell face-forward silently in the dark, empty space as the door to the trailer was closing. Then just as it closed, she sat up and wheeled about, and just was able to make out a black jumpsuit with the letters M and R on the back of it. Then the people were gone, and she was alone in the darkness. She stood up and ran across the width of the trailer and started began to pound the door loudly.

"Help!" Kiara screamed as she continued to pound on the door. "Somebody help me - please!"

Then she fell over backwards she felt the trailer lurch forward. It was then that she knew that the eighteen-wheeler was moving, and she was not getting out of it.

All she could be thankful for now was that Mischa was not there with her.

Mischa appeared in burst of pale, blue flames outside of the gate. She stared at the gate silently, her eyes wide with fear and shining with tears as she searched for some sign that this was the place where she would find her Vati. There was a shining, bronze sign hanging on one of the gates pillars. She wasn't entirely sure what it said, but she recognized the letter X, so she knew this must have been the place her mother had always told her about. She stared up at the mansion that was the driveway, uncertain of whether or not she should continue. The gate was closed, after all. But this is where her mother had said her Vati lived.

What if she had been wrong, though - what if he didn't live here anymore?

"Mischa!"

"Mischa Wagner?"

Mischa turned silently to see two women, escorted by four police officers, getting out of a shiny, black car parked down the road, calling to her as she did so.

Mischa stared at the women, gripping her duffel bag closer to her uncertainly as they approached her. Who were they - how did they know her name?

Mischa frowned as they rushed towards her. She couldn't tell if they were nice or not just by looking at them – one was a tall brunette, the other was a short blonde with glasses. Both were dressed in what she thought were business suits.

"Mischa Wagner?" the brunette woman called to her as they approached her.

It was then that Mischa realized that she should not be here, letting these people get near her. She should not even be thinking about talking to these people. She had to get to her Vati.

Mischa turned silently as the women and police officers continued to rush towards her. She stared hard at the mansion up the driveway from where she was and concentrated. Then she teleported and vanished once again in a burst of blue flames.

Kurt sat bolt, up-right in bed as the security alarm wailed loudly, echoing throughout the Institute. He ran across the room and threw open his door. The hall outside his room was flooded with students, all suiting up in their X-Men uniforms, siren lights danced across the walls of the dark hallway.

Then, suddenly, it all stopped – someone had turned the alarm off.

"Hey, Kurt!"

Kurt turned to see Kitty, running down the hall towards him, looking frantic. "Kitty," he said. "What's going on?"

"I don't know," Kitty said, shrugging. "I was just about to, like, ask you that."

"Wha– ?" Kurt opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off almost instantly by another sound:

A frantic banging and pounding that broke through the quiet murmuring of all the students and echoed through the mansion. Kurt stood, silently, as he realized that there was someone downstairs, pounding on the front door of the Institute, begging for entrance. The sound continued, resounding throughout the now quiet mansion as all the students stood uncertainly, unsure of what to do.

"Kurt," Kitty said, looking at him, her eyes wide. "You don't think – "

Kurt didn't even need to wait for her to finish the sentence. He grabbed her by the arm and teleported them both downstairs to the foyer. When he got there, he saw the professor, Logan, Beast, and Ororo also approaching. He ran across the room to the front door and threw it open.

Standing there on the front porch was a small girl, frozen in her motions, about four years old, who barely even came up to his waist. She had long, blood-red hair shot through with streaks of bright yellow and black. Her entire body was covered with coarse, black fur and she had a long, barbed black tail nearly identical to his own, except for the color. She wore a filthy, tattered turquoise-colored with holes in it and a faded white ribbon, and she was a clutching a filthy, brown duffel brown emblazoned with a red-and-black X logo on the front of it.

The girl had paused in her actions as the door opened and was staring up at him now, her bright, golden eyes wide with fear. "Vati?" she asked in a German accent that was nearly thicker than his own, probably due both to where she had been raised and his time spent in America, which had caused him to lose some of his accent. As she spoke, Kurt noted a mouthful of bright, white pointy fangs identical to his own.

The girl didn't wait for an answer and neither did Kurt. She threw herself at him without a moment's notice, throwing her bag to the ground and Kurt was on his knees, hugging her tightly to him as she burst into tears. She quickly buried her face in his shirt and began to weep loudly.

"Mischa!" a voice called out. "Mishca, no!"

Kurt looked up to see two women and four police officers rushing towards them, up the front the driveway. It was the reporters and their police escort.

"Who are you?" Kurt demanded, scowling at them. "What are you doing here, and what do you want with Mischa?"

"Yes," Professor Xavier said, appearing beside Kurt in the doorway. "Please, do explain yourself."

"My name is Eugenia Fletcher," the tall brunette woman said, pulling her wallet and ID out of her pocket for them all to see. "I am a social worker from CPS and I have come to take that little girl from you."

"What?" Kurt said, sounding outraged as he got to his feet and pulled Mischa closer to him. "Mischa is my daughter – you can't take her!"

"Kurt!"

Kurt turned to see Lance and Rogue rushing down the grand staircase towards him and Mischa. He gripped Mischa even tighter as he suddenly realized that they had probably known who this woman was all along. They had had experience with the foster system, after all.

"Kurt," Lance said, skidding to halt in front of him. "Give her to the police officer, and everything will be alright."

"Nein!" Kurt spat at him as Mischa began to sob even harder in his arms. He stroked her head as he spoke. "They can't take Mischa from me – I'm her father!"

"We have no proof of that," the short blonde woman said, adjusting her glasses. "And she is going in a foster home where she belongs until we can sort out whatever it is that's going on in court."

She stepped to the aside as a tall, male police officer with thick brown hair stepped forward, looking at Kurt expectantly.

"Kurt, please," Rogue said, looking at her brother pleadingly. "Give her to them. It will be alright, I promise."

"Nein, Rogue," Kurt said, looking at her in disbelief as he pulled Mischa even closer to him still. "Look at her – hasn't she been through enough?" He gestured to Mischa, who was still sobbing loudly into his shirt. "I'm not just going to hand her over to these people without even an explanation."

"Yeah," Logan said, walking over to them. "Just who the hell do you people think you are, coming here and trying to take her from him?" He gestured to Kurt and Mischa.

"We've already told you," Eugenia Fletcher said. "I am a New York State social worker, and we have no idea who he is – " She pointed to Kurt " – which is why she is getting put in a foster home."

"My name is Kurt Wagner," Kurt said, looking at her. "Mischa is my daughter."

"And my name is Sarina Clairmonte," the short blonde woman said, pulling some papers out of her briefcase and handing them to the professor. "I represent the Krauste family from Berlin, Germany and they are seeking custody of that little girl, who I believe to be their granddaughter. So she is going in a foster until we have a chance to sort this out in court as I said earlier."

"What?" Kurt said, looking at her. His expression changed almost instantaneously from one of anger to one of absolute. He had always known that this was a possibility, but he never dreamed that they would actually go through with it. "They're doing what?"

Mischa wrapped her arms tightly around his neck and wound her fingers in his hair, while still continuing to sob loudly.

"They are seeking custody of their granddaughter," Sarina Clairmonte repeated. "She belongs back home with them in Germany. Not in a group home, being raised by some college student who's practically still a child himself."

Kurt scowled at her as she said this, but as he opened his mouth to speak, Lance reached out and put his hand on his shoulder. "Kurt," he said. "If you fight this, all it's going to do is make things worse."

"I'm afraid he's right, Kurt," Professor Xavier said, still looking over the papers Clairmonte had given to him. "It would seem you have no choice."

Kurt looked silently at the people around him, a pained look on his face. Then he reached out silently and handed Mischa carefully over to the nearest police officer. The minute Mischa was out his arms, she was screaming and wailing, and struggling to hit the officer.

Kurt rushed over to her quickly and said, "Be good, Mischa. Don't use your powers until you come back here. Your mother wouldn't like it if you did." He wound his fingers through her tiny hand as the police officer began to walk away, carrying her away from him.

"NEIN!" Mischa screamed at the top of her lungs, her voice piercing the quiet night. "Nein, Vati!" She reached out to him as the officer carried her away. "Ich liebe Sie, Vati – Bitte nicht! Schicken Sie mich nicht weg – ich werde gut sein, das verspreche ich! Ich verspreche, Vati!(2)"

Kurt turned away silently as he continued to listen to Mischa scream in rapid German, her shrieks echoing in the silent darkness of the night. He closed his eyes shut tightly as he tried to block out the sound to keep himself from running after her, but he couldn't. The sound her of screaming for him, begging him not to send her away was too chilling a sound, and he felt as though some part of him had shattered inside his chest. Never had he thought he could experience a pain worse than he had felt on the day Kiara had left him. He had been wrong.

"Mr. Wagner?"

Kurt turned silently to see Eugenia Fletcher still standing in the doorway of the mansion on the front porch. The rest of people were gone as was the bag Mischa had brought with her.

"What is it?" Kurt asked the social worker angrily. Then he had to remind himself that none of this was her fault at all. She had only been doing her job. Somehow, however, that still didn't stop him from being angry at her.

"If you really are Mischa's father," Fletcher said, "we have laws here in New York State that will protect your rights as her parent if you are willing to pursue them."

"Laws?" Kurt asked her uncertainly. He really had no idea what she was talking. The little research he had done on the subject had taught him nothing, except a couple phrases of legal jargon.

"Yes," Fletcher said, nodding. "I'm sure Professor Xavier knows all about them."

"Ja," Kurt said, nodding. "Thank you." Then he closed the door silently in her face.

Kurt turned to face the room of people in front of him – Kitty, Lance, Rogue, Scott, Jean, Logan, Beast, and Ororo. All of them stood in a stunned silence, unable to believe what had just happened, listening to Mischa's screams of German, which could still be heard in the distance, with varying looks of discomfort and horror playing about their faces. All except for the professor.

"You knew who they were?" Kurt asked the professor without looking at him.

"Yes," Professor Xavier said, nodding. "I didn't tell you because I knew you would go after them, worsening your chances of ever getting back your daughter, but I can assure you, I'm going to do everything in my power to put a rush on this court date."

"I see," Kurt said, nodding. He looked at Rogue and Lance. "You knew as well?"

Rogue and Lance exchange looks of discomfort, and remained silent for a moment.

"We didn't tell you," Rogue said, "because we didn't want you to do something stupid – "

"Something stupid, Rogue?" Kurt said, looking at her. "Like what, exactly – try to prevent them from taking my daughter from me? Did you want this to happen?" He shook his head with a pained look on his face.

"Kurt, no," Rogue said, quickly in disbelief. "I would never wish this on anyone – "

"You would never wish this on anyone, and yet you stood here, begging me to give her to those people?" Kurt asked her, his tone of voice raising slightly.

"Kurt," Kitty said. "None of us wanted this to happen, but she would have ended up going with those people anyway. They were from the state."

"I had her in my arms, Kitty," Kurt said, looking at her. "I had her, sobbing in my arms. Look at my shirt." He gestured to his shirt, which was soaked with tears. "And I gave her to those people, and you do what she said to me – do you have any idea what she was saying as I just let those people take her away from me?"

"N-no," Kitty said in a shaky voice as she shook her head. She didn't speak German. How could she possibly know?

"She was begging me, Kitty," Kurt told her angrily. "She literally begging me not to give her to those people, promising me she would be good - as if that could have possibly made a difference - calling me her 'Vati' and begging me not give her away! That's what she was saying!" He turned and started up the grand staircase back to his room.

When he reached the landing, he turned the corner and saw Bobby Drake there silently, a horrified look on his face. Kurt pushed past him silently.

"Kurt!" Bobby called to him.

Kurt paused and turned to face him, an angry, inquiring look on his face.

"I'm so sorry," Bobby said, shaking his head. "I never, ever wanted this to happen."

"When I get my daughter back," Kurt said, scowling at him, "you stay away from her until I say otherwise." Then he turned and continued down the hall into his room and slammed the door behind him.

1) Nicht bewegen – German for "Don't move."

2) Bitte nicht! Schicken Sie mich nicht weg – ich werde gut sein, das verspreche ich! Ich verspreche, Vati! – "Please no! Don't send me away – I'll be good, I promise! I promise, Daddy!" in German

A/N: I freaking hate myself right now. I am so depressed from writing this. Please, read and review, I want to know what was going through your head when you guys (whoever you may be) read this. Please, no comments on how crappy the whole kidnapping scene was. That stuff is my weakness.

Thank you.