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FF: Gift of the Nightcrawler 11-15 of 15

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  • Linda J
    I had intended to wait until after Yahoo had sent out the daily combined message list so not to possibily over fill anyone emailbox. But after I realized how
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 20, 2004
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      I had intended to wait until after Yahoo had sent out the daily
      combined message list so not to possibily over fill anyone emailbox.
      But after I realized how busy I'll be these next few days I don't
      know if I'll have the chance to gat back on the computer until after
      Christmas! Anyways I really hope you like the story and hope you
      have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! -Linda J.

      Ch11
      "Haven't seen you around much." Scott mentioned to Kurt as they
      passed in the hall the next morning. "I've been busy." Kurt
      mentioned with a distant tone.
      "So I've heard." Scott mentioned. "Any luck getting Rebecca Roijm-
      Stamos to come with you to SOB Shultz by the end of this week?"
      Kurt whirled around in surprise. "How did you find out about zis?"
      Scott chuckled and shook his head. "Here at Mutant High, news tends
      to travel fast. But seriously how's it coming along?"
      Kurt's bleakness quickly disappeared as he suddenly thought to ask
      Scott for his advice. "Perhaps you could be of zome help ja?" Scott
      smiled thinking that Kurt was so impressed with him that he would
      even assume he was able produce a Hollywood personality on
      demand. "A-hem," Scott humbled himself. "I'm afraid I don't know
      anyone out in Hollywood Kurt."
      "Nein ,nein, mein freunde;" Kurt corrected Scott. "But could you
      please tell me vhere I vould look to buy a book printed during zhe
      medieval times?" Scott paused for a brief and disappointed moment.
      "Um…try the internet, Amazon.com is probably your best shot, or
      maybe Barnes and Noble; if nothing else try Ebay. Um Kurt, how
      exactly does an antique book fit into you getting a movie actress to
      come here?"
      For one of those rare occasions, Kurt elected not to go into one of
      his full detailed and lengthy stories. "It's quite a long story
      Scott, I'll have to tell it to you zometime but for now, I must be
      looking for a computer."
      Kurt walked into the kitchen and made himself a couple of pop-tarts
      and got a glass of milk. He sat down to eat his breakfast when
      Jubilee came in, with her brand new lap top under her arm. She
      plopped it down on the table next to Kurt and opened it up. "Heard
      you were looking for a computer?" she said as she pulled out the
      chair next to Kurt and sat down.
      "Scott vas right, news does travel fast around here." Jubilee turned
      and gave him a board smile. "Lightening speed, blue boy, lightening
      speed."
      For the time being, Kurt let his breakfast alone, leaving his pop
      tarts and milk sit between him and Jubilee, as he watched her start
      the computer up. "Do you know how to operate one of these?" she
      asked the teleporter as she unconsciously reached for one of Kurt's
      pop-tarts and took a bite.
      "Ah…no." he meekly admitted too embarrassed to fend for his
      breakfast. "No problem, I can help," Jubilee added as she took
      another bite. "Now what exactly are you looking for?"
      "It is a rare medieval book printed in 1528. Zhe exact title
      is "Commentarii di Caio Giulio Cesare," he began to explain. "O-o-o-
      o-kay; Can you spell that for me?" she asked as she took another
      bite from Kurt's pop-tart. "Perhaps I should vrite it down ja?"
      Jubilee reached into her purse and handed him a small writing
      pad. "Sure," she mumbled through another mouthful of pop-tart; by
      now, the first pop-tart was nearly gone.
      "You're lucky I was on my way down here to get something to eat
      before first hour. I…" Suddenly Jubilee was aware that she had been
      eating Kurt's breakfast all the while by mistake. "Oh! Oh, oh, I'm
      so sorry about that!" she emphatically apologized. Kurt merely
      chuckled as he handed her writing pad back and waved it off.
      "No worries. I'm just grateful you can help me vith zis zing," he
      mentioned lifting his cloven hand. "Computer keyboards are just a
      number of many zings not built vith zese in mind."
      "I see what you mean," Jubilee glanced over to look at his hands
      then at the book title he had written on her note pad. "OK, let's
      see if we can find this bad boy here on line," and after a few
      moments of key taps and a succession clicks, Jubilee smiled
      cheerfully as she pointed to the page on the computer. "Here's the
      links to several book stores, and also for Ebay. Let's try this one
      first," and she clicked onto one of the bookstore links. But alas
      the book was not available. She tried another bookstore website,
      then another, and yet another but not one had this rare antique book
      in stock.
      "Vhat is vis `Ebay'?" Kurt wondered. Jubilee shrugged her
      shoulders. "It's like an auction house; except you bid for stuff on
      line and its like open to everyone in the world who has a computer."
      Kurt nodded his head. "Let's look zere," he suggested.

      Ch12
      Jubilee went to the Ebay website and searched for Kurt's book. I
      don't believe this! Kurt, my man you are so-o-o-o lucky!" she
      exclaimed. "Vis time I do not zink it vas luck vho helped me,
      fraulein!" Kurt happily replied.
      "Well whoever's looking out for you sure has good timing. Look, it
      says here there's only forty-two minutes left on this auction and at
      the moment the highest bid is only three hundred! If you play your
      cards right you might get it at a bargain!" Jubilee pointed to the
      screen and showed Kurt where she was getting the information
      from. "I see," he spoke confidently. "Now how do I start bidding?"
      "Well you'll have to register first, I can help you with that,"
      Jubilee then went straight to the registration page. "You just tell
      me the answers and I'll type them in."
      They were almost done with Kurt's registration when Kitty popped her
      head in. "Jubilee, the Professor's waiting on you." Jubilee glanced
      looked up over her lap top monitor. "Tell him I'm helping Kurt with
      something."
      "He knows, he just wanted me to remind you that today's the
      beginning of mid-term exams and he wants everyone to start the tests
      at the same time. So he's holding up the class until your ready to
      join."
      Kurt quickly interrupted. "Jubilee, zhere is still more zhan zirty
      minutes left on zis auction; I do not vant to hold Herr Professor's
      class up any longer; you should go."
      "You're right." Jubilee sighed and stood up grabbing her
      purse. "Tell you what, you look like someone I can trust," she then
      perked up and leaned down to hit the laptop's `back key' and went
      back to books actively page.
      "Just keep a close eye on this page, it tells you what the current
      highest bid is, just keep out bidding the highest bid until the
      auctions up, that's the best way to get the book. Then when your
      done just bring my computer to the Professor's class."
      "Zat is very kind Jubilee, but remember?" and once again he raised
      his hand to show her his awkward hands. But she already had an
      idea. "Here," she handed him a pencil pencil. "Just tap the keys
      with the eraser end, I do this all the time when my nail polish is
      wet."
      "A...OK." he replied, seeing the logic in her plan. "Danke schoen,
      fraulein. I vill get zis back to you right away." Kurt assured her
      as she walked out of the kitchen with Kitty. Kurt grinned believing
      in his heart that his ordeal was about to end. He studied the
      page. "Highest current bid: $300.00," he read to himself and proudly
      took the eraser end of the pencil and tapped in the amount $350.00,
      and hit `send'. When the page flashed back onto the screen, it now
      revealed a new highest bid; but it was NOT Kurt's! The highest bid
      now stated. $400.00!
      Kurt immediately entered the amount $450.00 only to have been out
      bid again. The price was now $550.00. Once again Kurt tapped on the
      keys and entered a new amount of $650.00, but of course, was once
      again knocked out by someone else's bid, who now raised the amount
      to a whopping $1000.00!
      "Ach, mein Gott!" Kurt gasped under his breath. Just how badly did
      he want this stupid thing anyway?
      For the next several minutes he hesitated to enter anything more.
      Surely God would not expect him to sacrifice everything he had all
      for a girl he had never met? The time had almost run out and Kurt
      decided to give it one more try. With some trepidation, Kurt entered
      in a new amount. $1001.00, but as he went to hit the `enter' key,
      the pencil slipped and fell to the floor. `Scheiss!' he cursed to
      himself and reached down for the pencil. He kept his eye on the
      activity page as he fumbled around to find the pencil. Time was
      running out, and so he gave up looking for the pencil and tapped the
      enter key with his cloven hand, just seven seconds from closing
      time. Finally he saw his bid was on the top of the list! He had the
      highest bid! He felt a sense of great accomplishment while at the
      same time he was wondering how he would actually pay the amount.
      Kurt continued to stare at the page, waiting for some sign that the
      auction had ended he was victorious. Bells, whistles, blinking
      lights…SOMETHING! But alas, nothing on the page changed at all. He
      waited another minute or so, never realizing that hitting
      the "refresh button" was all he needed to do.
      `Hmmm…' he began looking at all the information on the page hoping
      to see what to do next. He looked up on top of the page and
      saw "your auctions" listed as one of the places to go. He hit the
      button and studied its information closely. The only thing it told
      him was. "Items you bid on: 1; Auctions you won: 0"
      He heart sank into his feet! He found his way back to the closed
      auction board for the antique book only to find that the very same
      person who had been competing with him for the book came in on the
      final second with a bid of $1001.25!
      A frustrated and frazzled Kurt threw his hands up into the
      air. "That's it! I give up!" he shouted loudly just as some of the
      younger kids were walking passed the kitchen and overheard.
      One of the girls popped her head in. "That's OK Night Crawler, I
      feel that way all the time!" Kurt shook his head, feeling a little
      embarrassed, smiling kindly at the mutant child. Her little blue
      hair pulled back in barrettes except for one wild lock that hung
      stubbornly just over her right eyebrow. She was about to catch up
      with her friends when she thought of one more thing to add. "I bet
      the Professor could help," she mentioned as she left the kitchen.
      Kurt waved at the child as she left and quietly got up to return
      Jubilee's laptop back to her. He was almost to the Professor's door
      just as class was being dismissed. "Here is your computer, Jubilee,"
      he spoke quietly as he handed her the laptop.
      "Oh, thanks!" she chirped but quickly took on a more serious
      expression sensing Kurt's unhappiness. "So…you didn't get it huh?"
      Kurt shrugged his shoulders. "It vould have cost me over one zousand
      American dollars and still zomeone out bid me."
      Kurt over heard her saying she was sorry as she walked away, just as
      Charles called him to come into his office. "Kurt, have you a
      moment?"
      Obediently Kurt walked into the Professor's office/classroom. "Yes
      Herr Professor?"
      "Say, how did your meeting with the brotherhood go yesterday?"
      Charles asked in a casual manner. Kurt smiled as he took a moment to
      collect his thoughts. "It vas…survivable."
      Charles chuckled a bit. "Survivable? Well sometimes that can be more
      than enough." Kurt then sighed. "Zis iz true, Herr Professor, but
      unfortunately my visit vas also a vaste of time." Charles shook his
      head. "I take it then Toad refused to you Marie's scarf?"
      Kurt did a double take. "How did you…ah yes you are psychic," he
      reminded himself. "But it is not zat Toad refused to return Marie's
      scarf, it's zat…vell, it's terribly complicated, Herr Professor."
      Charles smiled back and started to move his chair towards Kurt.
      "It seems to me anyone who has put so much time and effort into a
      project should expect to find results. Are you absolutely sure
      you're ready to give up?" Kurt thought the question over very
      carefully. "Unless you know vhere I can find a copy of ze
      Commentarii di Caio Giulio Cesare by Agostino Ortica printed in 1528
      by zhe end of zis veek, I have no choice."
      "Commentaries by Julius Caesar you say?" he repeated as he turned
      his chair around and headed to library wall in his office. "I see
      Erik's taste hasn't broadened much." Charles began looking at the
      titles of all the rare antique books in his office. "Ah, yes, here
      it is," and he reached up to picked a leather bound and heavy
      looking book from his library. "Here you go Kurt. I believe this is
      what Erik wants."
      "Danke schoen Herr Professor!" he gasped in disbelief as he
      accepted the book from Charles' hands. "I vould do cart vheels if
      zere vere room in here!" he added just as the students for the
      Professor's next class was beginning to fill the seats.
      "Vhat do you vant for zis book Herr Professor?" Kurt was almost
      afraid to ask the question. Surely a man as wealthy and prosperous
      as Charles Xavier was bound to have expensive taste. He was very
      relieved to see the older bald man shake his head as he turned his
      chair to go back to his desk. However something outside caught
      Charles' attention and he stopped in front of one of the windows
      that overlooked the grounds. "I'm certainly in no need of your money
      Kurt," he assured the teleporter. "However, would you mind doing
      something for me?" Kurt held his breath. `Here it comes.' He
      fearfully winced to himself. "Of course Herr Professor, anything you
      ask."
      "Yes," Charles used his strong arms to prop himself higher so that
      he could get a better look at what he saw outside his window,
      leaning and weaving just slightly to and fro to get a better view.
      "It would seem that Arty has stuck his tongue to the flag pole once
      again and now its frozen there. Would you be so kind as to go
      outside with a cup of lukewarm water and help him loose?"

      Ch13
      At last Kurt had found the final link he needed to accomplish his
      goal. He wasted no time getting the book to Magneto who graciously
      held up to his deal and granted Sabretooth a whole week away from
      the lair. A happy and whistling Sabretooth then went outside and
      went straight to the spot of ground where he had buried Toad's toys,
      er action figures, and dug them up with his bare claws. He brought
      them to Toad who carefully examined each one for damage, (luckily
      Sabretooth had kept them in the book bag Toad stored them in), and
      all were no worse for ware. Toad then retrieved Marie's scarf but
      pretended to blow his nose in it before handing it to Kurt.
      Kurt then returned to later in the evening to X-mansion where he
      gave the scarf to Bobby who wrapped it up to give to Marie as a
      Christmas gift and early the next morning went outside to create the
      most beautiful naivety scene this side of the Atlantic, and Piotr
      spent most of the afternoon drawing on a 20X24 inch sheet of canvas,
      using pastel water colors for the background against the fiery
      phoenix which Logan gratefully accepted from Kurt but not without a
      tinge of remorse. "Great," the feral man said, sounding both pleased
      and angry at the same time. "I'll give Mystique a call and we can
      all meet at the mall tomorrow."
      "You have her number?" Kurt asked Logan curiously. But before Logan
      could reply, Ororo gave the answer away. "Yeah, she keeps calling
      here begging him for a date."
      ___
      Around noon the next day Logan, Kurt and Ororo met up with Mystique
      in front of SOB Shultz. She was already in disguise as Rebecca Roijm-
      Stamos and was starting to attract some attention. Logan looked
      intensely at her, collecting her scent in his nostrils, making sure
      it really was Mystique. "Looking like that, I think I can almost
      stand kissing you." He grunted his backhanded compliment to her.
      "Are you always this charming?" Mystique questioned in sarcastic
      wonder as she walked up close to him and put her arms around his
      waist. Logan seemed lost for a moment, desperately trying to gather
      his thoughts. "Um…M-m-Mystique, no mistletoe," he flatly reminded
      her.
      "What? You didn't bring any with you?" she purred as she reached
      into her pocket and pulled out a sprig of her own. "That's alright;
      I'm a woman. I think of everything."
      "Ah, so you do." Logan stared at the piece of dead plant in her
      hands and found his heart was now in his throat.
      "Might as well get this over with," Logan tried to snort but ended
      up coming out more like a sigh. He grabbed her around the shoulders
      and whirled her around, making her bend at the knees, swooping her
      up into his arms and planted the most tender, passionate and
      romantic kiss he had doled out in quite a while. The crowd around
      them caught sight of this romantic gesture and began to applaud
      while Kurt snickered and Ororo rolled her eyes and huffed. "Did he
      purpose to her or something?" people started to ask one another only
      to start arguing over whether or not Rebecca Roijm-Stamos was still
      married to "that guy from Full House".
      Logan pulled her up to her feet and let her go, both mutants looking
      somewhat drained and yet elated by the experience. Logan cleared his
      throat "OK now; let's go in there and get that damn doll!"
      Now all four mutants marched into the toy store and headed straight
      to the back. Mat glanced up from his checkout stand and beamed a
      bright smile. "Dudes you did it!" he congratulated them as they
      walked by. As they approached to rear of the store they could hear
      Mat getting on the store's intercom. "Oh Un-cle T i-i-i-m-m-m…" they
      heard him sing out the store manager's name. "There's some-one to s-
      e-e-e-e you-u-u-u!"
      Within sheer nanno-seconds Tim, as they now knew his name, came
      charging out of the back room and onto the main floor.
      "That's it! I don't care if you're my wife's sister's only son, I
      shipping you ass back to Eugene tonight, you grass smoking hippie!"
      Suddenly he was face to face with Kurt who stood in front of him
      with a cheese-eating grin his face. "Ah, guten tag mein Herr. Do you
      remember me?" The started and angry man put his hands on his hips
      and glared down at the freakish looking creature. "Oh the hell could
      I forget?"
      "And do you remember our little agreement?" Kurt hinted
      playfully. "Huh?" the man wondered for a moment unable to recall
      this so called agreement he made with Kurt. "Oh, you mean…" he
      finally remembered. "Now wait a darn tootin' moment. I said you had
      to come back with Rebecca Roijm-Stamos in order to get that Barbie
      doll."
      "Yes, zat is correct, mein Herr." Kurt was smiling like a Cheshire
      cat.
      "Well," the man smugly snorted. "I see you, and the other two freaks
      that came with you last time, but I don't see…" Suddenly Kurt
      stepped aside and let Mystique in disguise walk up to the man. "It,
      it can't be," Tim gasped in utter shock.
      "Ms. Rebecca, it's, it's a pleasure…"
      "I'm sure it is." She jeered with a haughty huff. "I don't have time
      for this crap, I got better places to go and more important people
      than you to impress. So give us what we came here for and get the
      fuc…" Suddenly from behind Kurt nudged her to stop her from saying
      such profanity. "Zhere are children here," he whispered quietly to
      her.
      The mock Rebecca turned and gave the teleporter an angry glare, then
      focused her attention back to Tim. "Just…go…get…it!"
      A few moments later Tim returned with the Barbie inside a brown
      paper bag. "Keep this hidden, or you'll be rushed!" he quietly
      whispered as he handed her the bag. He also happened to have a blank
      sheet of paper and a pen and he tried handing them to her as
      well. "Um, Ms. Stamos would you please…I mean could you …you know…an
      autograph?" he asked humbly. She stared blankly at him and then at
      the paper in his hand. "Not even on a good day." And with that the
      band of mutants, proudly walked away with their prize.
      "So what exactly do you plan to do with that now?" Mystique wondered
      as she handed Kurt the bag and immediately transformed into someone
      far less conspicuous. For one of those rare occasions, Kurt didn't
      try to hide his face from the peering eyes of normal people. He
      walked tall and proud out of the toy store, his smile literally
      beaming from ear to ear. "Zhe directions on zhe paper say to drop
      zhe toys in zhe box located near zhe tree."
      "Has the same ring as a blackmailer's note if you ask me." Logan
      felt to mention as they made their way toward the food court. Both
      Kurt and Ororo gave Logan a silly grin while Mystique nodded her
      head in total agreement. "All of this holiday crap is nothing but
      legalized extortion."
      "Come on fraulein, you don't really mean that." Kurt spoke
      compassionately. But Mystique didn't push the argument however, as
      she slowed her pace, appearing that she was now ready to leave their
      company. "Well it's been fun," she dryly mused, giving Logan one
      long look.
      "Please, join us for drinks," Kurt eagerly offered as he motioned
      with his hand for her to come along with them. She stood their for a
      moment, expecting to see both Storm and Wolverine shake their heads
      or at the very least roll their eyes, but surprising neither seemed
      to mind the idea of her company. "Why not?" she asked herself aloud
      and quietly rejoined them as the now all headed toward the food
      court.

      Ch14
      As soon as they arrived Kurt noticed the tree he had found the
      Secret Santa form on was gone. He glanced around the court looking
      for the "box" where he was supposed to leave the package but it too
      was missing. While Kurt went to one of the counters to ask for help,
      Logan went up and bought everyone a round of hot apple cider, and
      Ororo along with Mystique found a suitable place for them to sit.
      Minutes later, Logan joined the girls with the hot drinks while Kurt
      still stood at the counter waiting to speak to someone. "So this is
      what he meant by `drinks' huh?" Mystique mentioned as she took a sip
      for the styrofoam cup. "I was thinking of something a little more
      fermented."
      "Love to oblige ya there darlin' but the Pro would be pretty pissed
      if we came home drunk. As soon as we get back to the mansion we get
      the thrill of driving got a bunch of kids to the airport so that
      they can go home for winter break." Logan mentioned as he took a sip
      from his. Mystique gave a disgusted groan.
      "Well I can understand Ororo and Kurt would be the sort to end up as
      one of Charles' docile drones but not you."
      For a moment Logan looked almost sorry for Mystique. "See sister,
      that's what makes me different from you. I can see the difference
      between being someone's drone and just giving a rat's ass about
      helping someone out once in a while." Just then, Ororo looked up and
      saw Kurt heading their way, looking forlorn. "What's wrong, Kurt?"
      "No one can tell me vhat is going on," he said sadly. Mystique, who
      was disguised as an average looking brunette, watched the teleporter
      put the package along with the Secret Santa slip down on the table
      next to her. She curiously reached over to read the slip Kurt had
      placed down on the table.
      "Well no wonder," she scoffed as she put the slip down and pointed
      to the finer print on the back. "Read this."
      Everyone leaned over to read what she was pointing to. "Typical;"
      Logan groaned leaning back into his plastic chair while Ororo put a
      sympatric hand on Kurt's shoulder as he just sat there starring at
      the bad news. "That…that was yesterday's date wasn't it?" he
      hopelessly said as the truth sunk in.
      "Yesterday was the last day to drop off the gifts, Kurt." Mystique
      was practically scolding him. "So, it would appear that all you
      effort was a waste of time."
      "Now hold on," Logan came to Kurt's defense. "It ain't over, till
      it's over Mystique. We'll just head over to the main office right
      now and drop the damn thing off ourselves. There's still a few more
      days till Christmas."
      But Mystique merely batted her cow like eyes at him. "I thought you
      said you had to take a bunch of kids to the airport?" she mockingly
      reminded him. "The Salvation Army's main office is over an hour away
      from here and that's during normal traffic. You won't be returning
      to Xavier's until after dark if you went there yourselves."
      "Zhere is no need for you to come along for zis Logan." Kurt
      explained as he stood up, finishing his cider in one long gulp, but
      as he got ready to leave, Mystique stopped him. "I can take you;
      it's on my way back to Washington."
      Kurt smiled at the shape shifter and graciously accepted her
      offer. "Zhank you fraulein, zhat vould be very helpful." Mystique
      smiled back at Kurt, though she seemed to be focusing her attention
      more on Logan. "That's quite alright Kurt; let's just say I once in
      a while I give a rat's ass about helping someone out."
      __
      As expected, the holiday traffic was hell; making the trip to the
      Salvation Army even slower. But that didn't damper Kurt's spirits in
      the least. He sat there in the passenger's seat of Mystique's sable
      colored Lexus, cheerfully smiling at the crowds and gazing up at the
      multitude of Holiday decorations spread out all over the town. "All
      ve need now is a nice fresh coat of snow, ja?"
      "Oh yeah, that's all we need!" Mystique quipped sarcastically. "Say,
      there's something I've been wondering. You went through all this
      trouble just to get a toy for some child you don't even know and
      most likely will never meet." Even now Mystique still pondered on
      the idea. "Why?" she finally asked in bewilderment.
      Kurt turned his head to look directly at her. "It is simple
      fraulein; I knew it vas Gott's vill."
      "Ah, I forgot what a religious fanatic you can be at times." She
      reminded herself with a cynical glare. "Alright then, please tell me
      what makes you so sure `God' wanted you to do this in the first
      place? Really, if God's so powerful and giving, then why did he make
      this so hard for you?"
      Kurt shrugged his shoulders. "I know if Gott had vanted to make it
      easy on me he vould have done so, but…" Kurt's voice suddenly seemed
      to fade off. "Perhaps He is testing me; to see if I am deserving to
      have my prayers answered or not."
      "Oh; so you did it expecting something in return," she jumped at the
      chance to expose his hypocrisy.
      "Nein;" he calmly defended himself. "I did not do vis hoping of
      getting a reward, however zhat doesn't mean I can't expect to see
      Gott answer my prayers because I obeyed Him; to do vhatever it took
      to fulfill His vill."
      For the next several moments neither said a word as Mystique tried
      to comprehend what she had just heard. Then, just as they came to a
      stop light, Mystique continued the conversation. "Well, if that were
      true, I can't imagine there would be anything worth the headache you
      just put yourself through."
      "But zhere is fraulein, zhere is!" he eagerly assured her. "You see
      I vas adopted, and even zough my adopted family were very kind and
      good to me, I have always vanted to meet my biological mother."
      Suddenly Mystique felt as if she had been kicked hard in the gut and
      her heart began to pound. "W-w-why?" she asked, too ashamed to look
      him in the face.
      Kurt paused reflectively for a moment before answering. "I zhink I
      vould like to zhank her for vhat she did for me."
      "Thank her?" she repeated. "For giving you away?"
      "For giving me life," he compassionately corrected her. "In today's
      vorld it vould have been easy for her to abort me, but instead she
      choose to let me live."
      "I would hate her!" she insisted under her breath, staring blankly
      at the red light.
      "Hate is a terrible zhing. A destructive power zhat only leads to
      death," Kurt warned as the light turned green and she drove on. As
      badly as Mystique wanted to drop this conversation entirely, she had
      to find out how much he already knew. "If you wanted to find her
      Kurt, then couldn't you just look up the information on your birth
      records?"
      Kurt shook his head. "Zhere is no record of my birth. No one in
      Germany could help me, but I believe in my heart she is here in
      America."
      "You say `you believe in your heart'; do you know for a fact that
      she came to America or is this a supernatural knowing?" Mystique
      tried to sound as objective as she possibly could.
      "I only know zis because a very long time ago, I dreamt I met my
      mother here in New York City."
      Staying impassive was getting more and more difficult for Mystique,
      as well as keeping a casual tone. "What…else do you know about her?"
      She tried to ask, soundly only mildly interested. Kurt gave a sigh
      and offered Mystique a sad smile. "Nothing else really."
      Mystique sighed in relief and drove on without saying another word.
      Soon they arrived at the Salvation Army's main office and she pulled
      over at the front door to let the teleporter out. "I trust you'll be
      able to find your own way home," she coldly commented as Kurt got
      out of her car with the package in hand.
      "Of course, fraulein; I am quite good at traveling on my own." The
      teleporter happily joked. "Zhank you again for all you help Mystique
      and I hope you have a merry Christmas." He was just about to close
      the door when she called out to him. "Kurt…"
      "Yes, Mystique?" he innocently popped his head back into her car to
      hear her better. For a brief moment or two it seemed that she had
      something heavy on her mind, but just as she was about to speak,
      some jerk from behind blasted on their horn, urging her to move on,
      breaking her concentration and dissolving her courage.
      "Never mind." She murmured, her voice somewhat shaky and
      unresolved. "Um…merry Christmas to you too." She blankly said,
      hoping he would leave it at that. "I vill mein freunde, on zhat you
      can count on." And with that he closed the door and she drove away
      without looking back.

      Ch15
      For the next two weeks or so, Mystique didn't socialize much with
      anyone, either as herself or masquerading as anyone else for that
      matter. She had spent Christmas day indoors and alone, sipping on
      pink champagne sitting in front of her marble fireplace and
      listening only to the crackling sound coming from within, until she
      finally passed out on her white leather couch and not awaking until
      well into the night. But now it was New Year's Eve and she had a
      date to keep.
      She returned to the city around six in the evening, looking like a
      very wealthy and well maintained lady of some maturity; the sort
      you'd imagine living on Park Ave. She was in black; from the veiled
      hat she wore on her head to the high heeled designer shoes with the
      open toes she wore on her feet. Even the mink stole was a lush jet
      black. She was ravishingly to look at as she walked down the city
      street holding a wrapped package under her arm, and men still turned
      their heads to get a second look even if she appeared to be dressed
      for a funeral. So it only made perfect sense to see her walk into
      the funeral parlor on the corner of the street.
      She opened the large wooden door and quietly walked inside. The room
      was quiet, deathly quiet, and she found herself wanting to tip toe
      across the floor. As she walked passed the visitation area, she
      looked inside and saw and older man with white hair carrying in
      several flower arrangements at one time. He saw her there and
      discreetly nodded his head, as if he knew why she was there. She
      nodded in return and continued to walk to the back of the funeral
      parlor and headed straight for the elevator. She went down to the
      morgue which was in the basement, casually walking by the slabs and
      ignoring the corpse laying peacefully on the slab. As she reached
      the back of the room, she changed back into her nude self and put
      her hand on a handprint scanner which was secretly hidden inside a
      countertop. A moment later, a secret door slid open and almost
      instantly Mystique's mood brightened upon hearing sound of hearty
      laughter and lively jazz music coming from within.
      The name of this quaint mutant haven was `The Emerald City' which
      had been around since the days of prohibition. A speak easy back
      then and in a sense still was today since it was one of the few and
      rare places that mutants could go unafraid of ridicule or
      discrimination. Mystique walked inside and looked around and
      immediately she spotted Erik who was sitting at one of the semi-
      circle slide in booths. She smiled warmly and invited herself to
      join him, sliding into the booth and sat across from him. The
      emerald green walls behind Mystique, as well as the faux green
      marble round table between them made her blue colored skin stand out
      even more so, making her that more alluring and pleasing to the
      eyes. She was a true beauty for Erik to behold and he smiled
      approvingly at her. "So glad you could make it my dear," he cooed as
      he ever so regally signaled for the waiter's prompt attention.
      "Where is everyone?" she asked looking around the room. Erik sighed
      and raised his eyebrows. "I'm afraid it just us this evening. As you
      know Toad hates crowds and Sabretooth went off to spend the holidays
      in Las Vegas of all places."
      "Las Vegas?" she curiously repeated as the waiter brought over the
      menus and served the champagne Erik had ordered to be delivered when
      his company arrived.
      "Yes;" Erik explained once the waiter left. "The fool bought a
      scratch off ticket a while ago and won five-hundred dollars. Now he
      wants to try his luck out in Sin City."
      Mystique softly laughed at the thought of seeing Sabretooth standing
      at a craps table and winning every round only because no one had the
      nerve to tell him it was bad to throw snake eyes. "Well what of the
      others?"
      Erik sighed softly and offered her a sad smile. "Pyro went with
      Quicksilver and Wanda to some party in Harlem. He said he didn't
      want to be stuck with `old folks'," he stressed with a smirk.
      "I know he wasn't referring to me," Mystique assured Erik as well as
      her self. "Oh, that reminds me…" she handed him the package she had
      brought in with her. "Happy belated birthday."
      Erik silently glared at her for giving him such a subtle insult,
      then began to unwrap his gift. Instantly he recognized the book's
      cover. "Commentarii di Caio Giulio Cesare, by Agostino Ortica. And I
      thought this book was rare." he mused ironically with a broad smirk.
      "I should hope it is!" Mystique mentioned with a huff. "I had to go
      Ebay just to find the damn thing and of course there was some jerk
      who must have wanted it as badly as I did because he kept trying to
      out bid me!"
      Erik chuckled a bit as the waiter now returned with Mystique's glass
      and more champagne. "Well thank you very much for the gift Mystique,
      it was…very thoughtful." A moment or so went by without either
      saying a word to one another. Then finally Erik broke the
      silence. "So, did you tell him?"
      Mystique looked away, then lifted her glass and took a healthy gulp
      of champagne. "No," she quietly admitted. "I thought about it, but…"
      she took another quick drink. "Why ruin a good thing. Family ties
      can be so…entangling."
      "Just as well I suppose." Erik tried to comfort her. "The sacrifices
      you've made will someday ensure the safety of all our descendants."
      Mystique looked trustingly at Erik and smiled.
      "Then," she filled her glass and raised it for a toast. "Here's to
      all that we parents give up so that our children may live better
      lives." Erik smiled and raised his glass to hers. "Here, here."
      xxx
      It was almost midnight and Kurt was sitting alone outside on his
      balcony, gazing at the beautiful ice sculpture Bobby had made below
      and the way the lights from the mansion reflected off of it. Just
      then there was a knock on his door. "Come in," he happily called out
      and Ororo opened the door and came in.
      "I thought you might like some company," she spoke softly as she
      carried in two cups of warm herbal tea. Kurt turned and gave his
      dear friend a warm smile. "Danke schoen, fraulein," the blue skinned
      mutant said as he reached out for one of the cups. "I am surprised
      zhat you did not go to zhe New Year's celebration at Times Square
      vith your other friends." Ororo shrugged her shoulders and smiled.
      "I've been doing that for so many years now," she commented with
      dreary tone. "The only thing that really changes are the numbers
      they light up at midnight. I think I can afford to miss that once in
      a while."
      The two mutants then looked out into the night's clear sky. "It is a
      lovely night, Ororo. Um…your handy vork perhaps?" Kurt subtly
      suggested. But Ororo merely smiled and shook her head. "Not this
      time Kurt. Every once in a while I leave the business to good ol'
      mother nature," she joked with a smile.
      "Christmas vas good zis year, ja?" Kurt said both as a question and
      as a remark, gently nodding his head. Ororo nodded her head in
      return, quietly agreeing with him. "Just curious Kurt but do you
      intend to ever be a Secret Santa again?"
      Almost instantly Kurt's face perked up. "Oh most certainly I vill!
      Christmas time is zhe best time to show Gott's love to everyone
      Ororo, even to zhose ve only know in spirit but not by name ja?"
      Ororo didn't have to ask to know who Kurt was really referring to.
      "I'm sure someday you will find your mother," she assured him with a
      sincere smile. Kurt nodded his head, though now his face took on a
      deep and serious look of contemplation. "Zhat day vill come, I know
      too mein freunde. But Gott vill not rush zhe miracle or even my
      mother if she is not ready."
      Both mutants quietly stood on the balcony for another minute or so,
      enjoying the crisp wintry air before Kurt continued the
      conversation. "I hear zhat zhe New York City post office has a
      special department just for letters zhat vere sent to Santa Claus,
      und every year zhey ask for volunteers to come in und be a Secret
      Santa for someone vho vrote a letter to Santa. I vould like to do
      zhat next year, but, I vill get a much earlier start, I zhink!
      Besides…" he paused and reached into his pocket and pulled out the
      controls to his brand new image inducer that the Professor had given
      him as a Christmas gift. "It vould make a perfect excuse to use zis,
      ja?"
      "You know something Kurt?" Ororo softly chuckled and put her arm
      around her good friend. "You do what is right without thought of
      reward, you stick to a task no matter how impossible the odds and
      you aren't afraid to make a fool of yourself; no wonder Charles knew
      you'd fit right into the team."
      Kurt chuckled back and put his arm around her shoulder. "I vill take
      zhat as a compliment, mein freunde." He then softly sighed to
      himself in a way that Ororo could tell he was quite pleased with
      life.
      "It is a lovely night," he murmured gently; just then the grand
      father clock in the mansion's main hall struck midnight. Kurt turned
      to Ororo and gave her a warm and heart felt squeeze. "Happy New
      Year, fraulein."
      "Happy New Year Kurt," Ororo replied jovially and squeezed him
      back. –THE END
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