A/N: Thank you Sidney, Kitty-Mae, YayProductions, Talk-Ape, and Sugary-Sweet for reviewing. You guys know you're awesome. :)
The plane fight to America was both amazing and horrible for Kurt. One half of his mind kept getting excited because he was on a plane. He'd never set foot on a plane before. It was fun to look around, play with all the little buttons, look out the window, and listen to nearby people talking. On the other hand, he was 20,000 feet in the air, he was no longer in Germany, and he was surrounded by lots of potentially violent people. He had to fight down his paranoid feelings in order to relax, but even then, he was a little jumpy.
When the plane landed, there was a long train ride from the airport to Bayville. Kurt got really nervous on the train, because he couldn't control where anyone sat. Luckily, he sat far away in the back, and very few people came close to him. As the train came to a stop, Kurt grabbed his luggage and got off. He looked around nervously, searching for….he wasn't exactly sure what. He didn't know who was picking him up, or what they looked like. He caught the gaze of an older man in a wheelchair. He was sitting beside a striking black woman with long, white hair. Kurt felt drawn to him, and he had the urge to move closer. But fear crept back into his head, and he stayed where he was.
The old man came closer, followed by the black lady. Kurt wasn't sure if they were the people he was supposed to meet, or if they had other intentions.
"Kurt Wagner?" the old man asked politely, his face calm and welcoming. Kurt nodded, feeling very shy. He froze up. He rarely met new people. He didn't know what to do. His English left his mind, and he muttered "Guten tag," before realizing his mistake. He looked the old man in the eye. "I…I mean, hello. Uh, um, are you ze profezzor?"
The professor nodded. "Yes, and this is my friend, Ororo Munroe."
Kurt looked over at the woman. She studied him carefully with her electric blue eyes; her face was kind. Her eyes were soft, loving. Kurt relaxed a little. The woman reached out to shake his hand. Kurt drew away.
He shook his head. He couldn't do that. People always reacted strangely when they felt his hands.
"It's all right, Kurt," the professor assured him. "Ororo knows that you're different. She won't mind. Go on," he urged.
So Kurt reached his hand out a little, hesitated, then shook Storm's hand. Ororo glanced down at his hand, feeling the two fingers and the fur. She thought he felt very soft, like fine velvet or something. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Wagner. Now, we have a car waiting. We'll take you to the Institute, ok?" she said. Kurt let her hand go.
"Ok," he muttered.
He followed the professor and Storm out of the train station. He seems so nervous, Storm thought to the professor as they walked out.
I know, but his mother did warn us. He's not used to being around people, and this must all be very overwhelming to him.
Storm nodded. He'll be ok when we get to the mansion. He just needs to see some people like him, I think. Though we don't have any students with such obvious physical…differences from normal people.
We'll let him meet Scott. His powers prevent him from living as normally as other people. He should connect with the boy.
I hope so, Storm thought with a sigh. I hope we can reach him.
I believe we can, the professor agreed. He glanced over his shoulder to make sure Kurt was still behind them. He was, and his head was cocked to one side as if he was examining them. As if he knew they were having a mental conversation.
You think he knows what we're doing? Storm mused.
Possibly, the professor thought with a small mental chuckle.
They arrived at the car. The professor got in, and Storm took the passenger seat. Kurt put his bag in the trunk and crawled into the back. The ride to the mansion was very quiet. Kurt kept looking from the professor to Storm. They appeared to be talking to each other, somehow. Their expressions were like those of two conversing people, and they kept glancing at each other.
Kurt gave up guessing and stared out the window. He wasn't sure what to make of America. He had summed it up in one word so far: big. There were people everywhere, the streets were busy, there were houses and buildings all over the place. Kurt had never seen so many people and buildings all at once. It was expansive and endlessly huge to him.
He thought America seemed like a nice place, though, despite its size. It's was warm—warmer than Germany—and the scenery was pleasant. Trees, hills, fields, wide open skies…it was very nice. Some places they drove past reminded him of his farm in Germany, which was comforting. But he couldn't help but sigh and think of his home. He missed his parents, he missed his house.
It's a good thing I brought some stuff from my old room, he thought. Maybe it'll make me feel more at home here.
Just then, the car stopped outside the gates of a very large house. It was a beautiful white mansion with at least three floors and tons of tall, elegant windows decorating the front. There was a rolling green lawn with several statues, none more prominent than the lady statue-fountain in the middle. Out back there seemed to be a pool and a basketball court. There was a huge garage on one side, which looked large enough to hold a dozen cars. Kurt's mouth fell open slightly. When he heard he'd be living at his school, he didn't think it'd be anything this fancy. He could barely imagine himself living somewhere so beautiful and high-class.
Storm and the professor climbed out of the car. Kurt got out after a moment and shook his head in disbelief. He grabbed his luggage and followed Storm and the professor inside. Storm stopped right after they got inside, looked at the professor for a moment, and said, "Yes, I'll go deal with that," and bustled off.
Kurt gave the professor a sidelong glance. The professor smiled and said, "Oh, Kurt, it's all right. I'm a telepath. That's my gift."
Kurt took a half-step back. "A…are you reading mein mind?" he asked nervously. The professor shook his head.
"I never do unless I have the person in question's full permission. I merely assumed you were wondering how I seemed to be talking to Mrs. Munroe," the professor explained politely.
Kurt gave a small nod. "Zo, you talk to people in their minds, ja?"
"Among other things, yes."
"Zat's cool," Kurt remarked, his curiosity piqued. "Und zo everyvone here has some sort of gift?"
"Yes. Even Ororo, who just left us, is very gifted. She can control the weather."
Kurt blinked. He thought his powers were crazy, but talking to a psychic old man and hearing about a woman who could manipulate the weather….it was rather a lot to take in. Plus there were x-number of other students here with other powers he could probably not imagine.
"Come to my office for a minute, Kurt," the professor invited. "I'll explain some of the school rules, and what you can expect in your first few days of living here."
Kurt nodded wordlessly and followed. The professor led him to a large, pale room with red furniture. A fire crackled in a fireplace along one wall. Another wall was line with books, like a library. The professor invited him to sit, but he stood there and looked around for a moment.
"Wow," Kurt breathed. "Zis place is huge."
The professor chuckled. "It is, isn't it? Now, Kurt, I'd like to tell you a little bit about this school."
The professor and Kurt talked for a few minutes. The professor did most of the talking and explaining. Kurt shyly said a few things, but mostly listened. In truth, the professor was mostly just talking to Kurt in an attempt to open him up. Just then, Scott and Jean walked by the professor's office and called in, "We're going out for a bit, ok?"
The professor raised a hand to stop them. "Hold on, you two. I'd like you to meet someone." Obediently, Jean and Scott stepping into the Professor's office. Their eyes found Kurt quickly. Jean raised a red eyebrow, trying to see the face that went with the pair of glowing eyes staring back at her.
"This is Kurt," the Professor said. "He arrived a while ago."
"Hey Kurt," Scott said. "This is Jean"—he motioned to the redhead—"and I'm Scott. How yah doing?" He extended his hand and smiled. Kurt stepped back, closer to the professor. He didn't want to scare them, or turn them away.
The professor smiled understandingly. "It's alright Kurt," he explained. "You're among friends here." He gave Kurt and encouraging look. Kurt slowly took his hand out of his pocket and shook Scott's hand. Scott flinched at the feel of fur, and gave him a funny look, as if deciding whether to be weirded out or not. He looked like he could handle it, and he smiled again.
"Hello," Kurt said quietly, blushing under his fur as he spoke. He could feel his cheeks burning.
The professor cleared his throat. "I was just telling Kurt how I set up this institute for gifted children, children whose gifts are not always an asset. Right Scott?" The professor glanced right at Scott, making him flinch a little.
"Oh, so, uh, you heard about last night?" Scott said, referring to some incident involving a mishap with his powers. Kurt wondered what he meant.
The professor smiled slightly and leaned forward. "It was difficult not to. It was on all the news channels. You destroyed half of the football field." What does this guy do, turn into Godzilla? Kurt wondered, trying to piece together the conversation.
"It was a bad situation, and there was an accident," Scott tried to explain. He rubbed his neck nervously. "I'm sorry."
"I know," the professor said seriously. "Luckily no one was badly hurt and the true cause was not discovered. But you must be more careful, Scott," he added forcefully.
"C'mon, Professor," Scott groaned. "I'm packing a bazooka behind each eyeball. What do yah want from me?" Kurt really wondered what Scott could do now.
"Control, Scott," the professor emphasized. "Control. That's what you're all here to learn." He looked over at Kurt, guessing he was confused. "Scott's eyes emit destructive blast beams," the professor explained. Kurt smiled. That was a crazy power, and way cooler than his. He felt a sudden sense of belonging, realizing he wasn't the only one who couldn't always control his powers.
He took a chance and pushed back his hat to show his face. "Cool," he remarked, smiling. Neither Scott nor Jean reacted badly upon seeing his face. They acted completely normal, which just about floored Kurt.
"Well, what can you do Kurt?" Jean asked from nearby. "Do you have a special gift which brought you here?"
Kurt nodded. He felt a tiny bit of pride creep up into his chest. He teleported across the room with a loud *bamf* and smiled. "Maybe," he said. His tail slipped out from under his coat and whipped back and forth excitedly.
"Whoa," Scott and Jean said at the same time, they eyes wide. Kurt blushed again. He'd never had anyone see his powers and find it cool, except for his parents. Then again, not many people saw him use his powers, but still.
"I'll be helping Kurt settle in," the professor said, waving Scott and Jean along. "We can talk more tonight," he added, giving Scott a last look. Scott gulped and led Jean out.
The professor turned back to Kurt. "Would you like to see your room?"
Kurt nodded. "Ja."
"Well, let's go then." The professor motioned for Kurt to follow him out. Kurt walked beside him. The professor was glad Kurt had chosen to show himself to Scott and Jean. It was a step in the right direction. So was opening up and showing off his powers. Those would give him confidence in himself.
"All ze students are zat nice?" Kurt asked, referring to Scott and Jean's warm welcome.
The professor answered as honestly as possible. "All of the students are different," he said slowly, "but I believe you will find all of them are that nice, yes."
The two stepped into the elevator, where Storm already was. "Going up?" she asked with a pleasant smile. She was carrying a small plant in her hands.
At the second floor, the elevator stopped, and the three of them got out. "Mind if I walk with you two?" Storm asked. "Just on my way to my inside garden."
"Of course," the professor said. They walked to an empty room and Storm pushed open the door with one hand. The room was large, with a floor-to-ceiling window along one wall and an outside balcony. Kurt stepped inside and looked around in amazement.
"Z..Zis is all mine?" he asked, stepping around in a circle.
"Yes, Kurt," the professor said. "That's why your parents sent you here. Because they knew you'd be happy here."
Just then, Kurt caught a look at his reflection in the mirror on one wall. "Happy?" he said with a long sigh. "How can I be happy vhen I look like zis?" A long train of bad memories ran through his mind. "I scare people."
The professor reached into his pocket. "Well, I have something for you, Kurt. I made this. Put it on," he said, removing a nice black watch from his coat pocket. Kurt took it and examined it, wondering how a digital watch was going to do him any good.
He sighed reluctantly and put it on. He looked down at his hands, only to see them unexpectedly change into normal, pale, five-fingered hands. He looked up, realizing what he happened to him. Whatever the watch was, it made him look superficially normal. He could hardly believe it. He felt his hand experimentally. It still felt like fur but it looked like soft, pale skin. He quivered. Fifteen years and he'd only ever dreamed of looking normal. Now, he had a simple device that made him look like a normal person whenever he put it on.
"Whoa," he breathed, his heart racing. He suddenly realized how easy this would make going to school and going out in public. His mind went crazy at the notion. Going out in public? How could it be so simple?
"I…I'm normal," he said after a second. He was almost too excited to speak.
"Of course you're normal, Kurt," Storm remarked. "But not because of that machine."
"Storm is right," the professor added. "Normal is what you truly are. Don't think otherwise." He moved up beside Kurt and turned off the watch. "This is just a disguise so you won't be prosecuted by those who don't understand you."
Kurt slumped a little. He knew the professor was right. He couldn't wear the watch all the time. The watch wouldn't make him not Kurt. It couldn't hide the fact that he was still blue and fuzzy underneath. He would always look different.
"I…I understand, professor," he said quietly. "But still. Zank you." He looked around his room again. "For everyzing."
Both the professor and Storm smiled. "You're welcome, Kurt," the professor replied. "Now, we must be leaving. Take some time and get settled."
They left a moment later, leaving Kurt alone in his room. He felt very small compared to the sheer size of his room. The living room and kitchen from his old house would have fit into the space he had.
He felt a strong mix of emotions. He was so happy to find that he was welcomed and accepted by the teachers and the students he'd met so far. He'd been given a huge room, and he was living in a gorgeous house with tons of property. He'd be with other students. He'd get to meet new people. And, most importantly, he'd gotten a watch that let him fit in with normal humans. He felt such a sense of freedom. It made him immeasurably happy and content.
Kurt looked around and walked over the large window-doors. He pulled them open and stepped out onto the balcony.
He leaned against the railing and looked out across the back lawn, which stretched back into a lush forest. He closed his eyes and felt the wind in his hair. It felt nice.
Zis place is perfect, he thought happily. I…I get to live here with nice people. And go to school. And go outside…
He quivered again at the thought. A surge of emotion ran through his body, and he had the sudden urge to do something wild. He climbed up on the railing, putting his feet on the lower horizontal beam. He leaned up against the railing and cried out at the top of his lungs, "Woooooohoooo!" His cry echoed across the field, loud and resonate. Kurt beamed and threw his head back.
"Zank you for giving me a chance to start over," he whispered to the universe. He closed his eyes as one happy tear rolled down his cheek.
Aww, I'm sorry this story's over. *Frowns* I was really in love with it. Well, anyway, hope you enjoyed it. Review!
-The Ember Raven