((Disclaimer: All the characters belong to Marvel Comics and whatnot. I don't own them, I can't keep them, so I'm just borrowing them for this exciting little romp. Enjoy your reading!))
Chapter 3: Winterpelz Worries
It was quiet.
Like, way too quiet.
Blinking away sleep, Kitty rolled over, blearily looking around her room. Rogue was still zonked in her bed, the door was closed, and pale sunshine was streaming in the window. The house was as still as a tomb, and it seemed that not a soul had stirred on this crisp, silent Winter morning. Her eyes finally returned to her bedside table and the clock set upon it.
She sat bolt upright. "It's eight o'clock?" she screeched aloud in disbelief.
Rogue groaned and mumbled. "Would y'all shut up, Kurt? An' get outta here!"
"Kurt's not here," Kitty informed her, hoping Rogue wasn't too far gone to understand her.
"Shnrgh...what?" Rogue's face appeared from beneath her covers. "He ain't?"
"No, and it's like, eight in the morning." Kitty's expression was a little concerned.
Rogue blinked. Then checked her own clock. "Hot damn. My prayers've been answered." With no further comment, she disappeared under her blankets again.
"Rooogue!" Kitty wheedled. "Like, aren't you concerned at all that Kurt hasn't like, come crashing in here an hour ago like he usually does?"
"No," replied the sullen voice. "N'fact, I'm glad of it. Now lemme sleep in the rest of the way."
"Fine," Kitty grumped, swinging her legs out to stand. "I hope you like, totally miss breakfast. And lunch."
Rogue didn't reply, so Kitty commenced to dress and then phased out into the hall. Wonder of wonders, a number of her comrades were up as well and, surprisingly, dressed. Quite a few of them seemed perplexed--and kept checking over their shoulders or looking up to the ceiling as if expecting a certain blue furry menace to pounce on them. Without a house-wide chase-down-and-strangle-Kurt to occupy their morning, most of the mutants were up, washed, dressed, and ready for breakfast with remarkable decorum and order. Most did not include Rogue--and apparently not Kurt either, because she didn't see him anywhere.
The line at the bathroom seemed the ideal spot to make inquiries. "So," she began, pulling up behind Jubilee and Bobby. "Like, has anyone seen Kurt this morning?"
"Not a hair of him," Bobby replied. "Which is really weird, considering that it's vacation."
"Is he sick or somethin'?" Sam asked from the front of the line.
Behind him, Ray snorted. "Naw. The Fuzzball considers it his sworn duty in life to wake us up frikkin' early and bug the hell out of us all day."
"He's not like, in the bathroom right now, is he?" Kitty asked.
"No, it's Roberto," Jubilee replied from ahead of Bobby. "I just got here when he went in."
Yawning, Evan came up behind Kitty. "Yo, anyone seen the K-man?"
"No," Kitty replied. "That's what we were just like, talking about."
"Dude, I even checked his room. He's gone."
"So he's not in his room, and he's not in the bathroom," Bobby listed, thinking. "And he didn't wake us up this morning... Hm, maybe he got in trouble last night, and Logan's out training with him."
Scott, on his way back from downstairs, said helpfully in passing, "If anyone's looking for Logan, I just saw him in the kitchen."
Jubilee watched him go, then turned back to Kitty. "Huh, dead end there. Hey Kitty, Kurt usually gets his shower time done really early in the morning, doesn't he?"
"Yeah, and like, leaves blue fuzz in the drain." Kitty frowned. "And he takes forever in there, so he's always getting up at like, dawn to stay out of our way."
"Nice of him," Ray growled.
"Next!" Roberto called, emerging from the bathroom. Sam ducked inside as Roberto headed for the stairs.
"Hey Rob, you seen Fuzzy anywheres?" Ray called after him.
"Nope," Roberto threw over his shoulder.
"Like, another dead end," Kitty said with crossed arms. "This is like, a total mystery."
Further speculation on the whereabouts of Nightcrawler continued until everyone was finished with the bathroom. When everyone was done, those who had remained to converse traveled in a still-puzzled herd down to the dining room, where breakfast was waiting. Logan and Ororo greeted them from the table, and the Professor wheeled in seconds later, followed by Scott and Jean.
Miraculously, even Rogue showed up after a few minutes.
For a while, the entire table sat, composed and not eating, almost everyone staring at the empty spot beside Logan. Kitty felt a tiny grain of worry settle in her heart, trying to irritate its way into a pearl of panic. Like, where on Earth is Kurt?
The Professor cleared his throat. "Well, everyone, I suppose we should--"
Bamf! "Honk honk! Guten morgen, everybody!" In a puff of fading sulfurous smoke, Kurt Wagner was suddenly in his place at the table, holo-projector and all, smiling at them.
Kitty had never been more glad to see that goofy grin directed at her. "Kurt! Where were you?"
The rest of the table apparently felt the same. "Dude, where did you go?" "We were lookin' all over th' mansion for ye!" "Great, now he shows up." "Gosh, where were you hiding all this time?"
Kurt put up his hands in surrender, still grinning widely. "Don't worry, my friends! Nothing's wrong. Consider this an early Christmas present, ja? I let your lazy heads stay on your pillows all morning and didn't make a peep. Happy now?"
"Well then, I suppose we should get to breakfast," the Professor said, interrupting the interrogation. "Pass the eggs, please, Scott."
With gusto, the breakfast chatter began, food was passed around, and everyone dug in. Apparently, no matter how much they "hated" Kurt's morning routine, his presence had been missed.
"Like, you had us all worried, you Fuzzy Elf!" Kitty scolded him from her place while the others turned to other subjects. "I almost thought you were like, kidnapped or something!"
"Vas? I was actually missed?" Kurt put both hands over his heart. "Kitty, I'm touched!"
"Yeah, well don't like, let it go to your head," she retorted. "I still think Ray and Amara would like, totally toast you if you woke them up tomorrow."
Kurt swallowed a big bite. "I'll worry about tomorrow when it comes, ja? Right now there's a big yard of fresh snow and I'm--"
"Elf..." Logan sighed.
"Hn?" Kurt's eager expression suddenly melted. "Oh, right. The watch. Jawohl."
Kitty continued to eat her breakfast, watching Kurt out of the corner of her eye. Like, what is up with him? One word about the watch and he like, totally goes introvert.
She resolved to figure out what was bothering him, whether he wanted her to know or not. The Professor, Mr Logan, and Jean obviously weren't going to clue her in, so she decided that the only thing that was going to do it was good old-fashioned legwork. Time for Kitty Pryde, Personal Investigator, to like, get down to business.
After breakfast everyone scattered, and Kitty lost him in the rush to take care of dishes and help out in the kitchen. After that was taken care of, with some inquiries to the young mutants she managed to track Kurt to the front parlor.
She found him perched on the back of one of the couches against the wall, elbows resting in the window nook, chin in hands, his face all but pressed against the glass. His holo-watch was still in place, but his blue tail stuck out the back of his pants and trailed almost to the floor. It twitched every so often, reminding her of a bored cat.
"Hey, Kurt," she greeted.
"Kitty?" He jumped a little, sitting up to face her. His tail drew close around him, disappearing under his shirt. "What's up?"
"Like, what's so interesting out there?" She came near him, knees on the couch and settling her elbows beside his perched feet. "You looked like my mom's cat used to, when she was like, staring out the window at birds."
He shrugged. "I was just...watching."
She leaned over to look out. "Oh. Hey, they're having like, tons of fun out there."
The majority of the male mutant population of the Institute had turned out in the front yard for an enthusiastic snowball fight. There were two major teams--one was made up largely of Jamies, she could see--and two well-built snow forts, one way neater than the other and obviously Bobby's work.
"Ja, lots of fun," Kurt replied morosely.
"Like, why don't you go join them?" she asked. "It's like, totally obvious that you want to."
"You know what Logan said." He held up his wrist--the one with the watch on it.
"Kurt, you're like, totally obsessing over this...whatever-it-is." She reached for the watch's holo on/off button, but he jerked his hand away. "Like, what's the matter with you?"
"Nothing!" he said, his voice uncharacteristically sharp. "I told you already, don't worry about it. Just leave me alone!"
He vanished in his usual manner, leaving her to wave smoke from her eyes and pout sullenly. Okay, the nice approach didn't work. Time to haul out the big guns. Fuzz-boy wanted to play hardball? She could play hardball.
Kurt's comment last night was her only clue. Setting her jaw stubbornly, she marched to the Institute's library to find herself a German dictionary. High time she started figuring out the language, so she could finally figure out the guy.
Kurt sequestered himself in his room where hopefully no one would bother him. He hated to be alone, and hated to be out of the action, but this issue with his holo-projector...it was either fun or the watch, and at this point, Kurt chose the watch.
He was clinging to the ceiling above his window so he could look out at the snow below. Wonderful snow, cool and white and clean. And soft, too--he didn't have to wear his boots in the yard. He could tunnel through it and run over it; he had more fun in the snow than he did in the trees. And it only came once a year.
And he was missing it because of this stupid problem. His first Winter at the Institute, and he didn't get to go out and show everyone who the Master of Snow was.
There was a firm knock on his door. "Vas?" he quieried. "Come in, it's unlocked."
The door swung open, then shut. Whoever-it-was stepped over to the middle of the room. It was a woman's step, and too light to be Ororo. One of the girls--or worse, Kitty.
"Hello, Kurt," Kitty began. Her voice had a certain tone to it, one that set him on edge and made him realize that he was, quite possibly, in big trouble.
"Hello again, Kitty."
"So, like, how're things with..." An odd pause. "...Ihr Winterpelz? I think I said that right..."
Kurt fell off the ceiling.
It took him a madly limb-flinging tail-whirling moment to reorient himself in the air, but he managed to land clumsily on all fours. He stared up at her, his expression something akin to horror. "Vas...? But...how do you...?"
She raised a brow at him, then held up the book in her hand. It was a fat little volume with the title printed in both English and German on the cover. "This is like, a handy little book," she commented. "It took me a while to figure it out, though. I like, totally forgot that V's and W's are switched, so I was looking in the wrong place for like, ten minutes."
"Ach..." Kurt smacked his forhead. No matter that Kitty might seem like a ditz sometimes--she was also one of the best students in the school. Picking up a dictionary and starting to puzzle out his mother tongue was not beyond her abilities.
"I like, already knew what that other word was," she continued, sitting down on his bed and thumbing through the dictionary. "This is a neat book, you know?"
"Kitty...?" His tone was almost pleading as he stood up and approached her.
Her gaze snapped up to him. "So 'Winterpelz' is what you were like, all freaked out about? 'Winter fur?'"
"Like, what is the big deal, Kurt?" she demanded suddenly. "You've been wearing that watch like, nonstop because you've got a winter coat?"
He gritted his teeth, looking down. "It's...embarassing. I asked you to leave me alone!"
She glared at him. "I'm not gonna let you just like, waste away in the house all winter. Was that your plan?"
Kurt couldn't answer because yes, stupid as it sounded, that was his plan. "I didn't want anyone to see..."
"To see what? Did you like, turn purple? Jeeze, Kurt! You'd think that by now you'd have learned to like, trust your friends."
He sat heavily on the end of his bed. "Ja...I know. But...I'm used to being laughed at."
Kitty's tone softened. "I'm sorry, Kurt. I was just worried about you. Having you not being like, some annoying big brother is like, totally weird." She leaned over, trying to catch his eye. "So...like, can you turn it off?"
He looked up at her, almost askance.
"Look, I'm not gonna like, burst out laughing. I promise. No matter how bad it is."
"Why not?" Kurt sighed. With a shake of his head, he touched the button on his watch.
When the human facade disappeared, Kitty had to blink. She hadn't seen him furry and blue in like, forever. She looked him over carefully, brows furrowed, but soon her eyes met with his anxious yellow ones.
"Well?" she asked.
"Vas?" He stood straight up off the bed.
"Well what? I don't see anything."
Now it was his turn to blink. "But...when I get mein Winterpelz, I get all..." He looked down, shuffling one foot. "...flaumig."
She brandished the book at him. "Don't make me spend like, half an hour looking that one up, Kurt."
He scowled. "I get fluffy, okay? My fur gets all thick and fluffy."
"Well like, duh. It's called a winter coat for a reason." With a sigh, Kitty stood up, stepped closer, and peered carefully at him. From his face to his arms, then to his toes and tail. "I still don't see like, what all the huge fuss is about. I mean you're like, a little bit puffy around the edges but like, you really don't notice."
"Really?" He looked...just this side of hopeful.
"Like, really." She almost giggled, but remembered her promise not to laugh. "Jeeze, I didn't even know what you were talking about 'til you told me." Now that she knew what she was looking for, he did look "a little bit puffy" here and there, mostly around his throat and arms--but that was about all of him she could see; the rest was swathed in his usual baggy pants and shirt.
"So...you don't think the others would say anything?" he asked, almost shyly.
"Kurt...you're like, way too paranoid about this," she said, hands on hips. "I don't think they'd even like, notice."
"Wunderbar!" His whole face lit up. "Danke sehr, Kitty!"
"Well, I didn't really..." She trailed off; he was already bounding about the room--holo-watch off this time, so he looked much less out-of-place--grabbing various articles of clothing and pulling them on. Snow pants over his baggy ones, sweater over his shirt; he grabbed his coat from the rack and his hat off the chandelier--how did it get up there in the first place?
"Like, what's up with you now?" she asked, perplexed.
Kurt pulled the watch off his wrist and set it in his nightstand drawer. "I'm going outside! See you, Kitty! Thanks again!" Bamf!
Kitty waved away the smoke, her face shining with a triumphant smile. "Like, have fun, Kurt. Look out, world!" She phased out of Kurt's room and almost ran into the girls camped out by the door. "Like, can I help you?" she asked sarcastically.
"I guess that...it went well, didn't it?" Jubilee said sheepishly. "Sorry...we were all kinda curious about it. So...what is Kurt's problem?"
Kitty smiled broadly. "Nothing. He's like, totally over it now. I'm getting my snow clothes on. Kurt's like, totally cutting loose out there and I do not want to miss it."
"Ye mean there's te be a snow-fight?" Rahne asked, eyes lit up.
"There like, already is," Kitty replied. "But with Kurt it'll get like, way more interesting. C'mon!"
With squeals and giggles, the girls bolted for their rooms to dress for the outdoors. They sensed a major snowball fight in the works, and it was wise to gear up for any eventuality.
To be continued...
|stronger "Yes," or "Yes sir."|
|"Thank you so much!"|
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