She offered a hesitant smile. "I'm Rachel."
"That's a relief," Kurt Wagner replied in his lilting German accent. "Did you discover what was wrong with her?"
"Shock, mostly," Hank murmured to his fuzzy blue assistant. "Coupled with exhaustion and malnutrition. She should make a full recovery. Except..."
"Except?" Kurt asked. He regarded the doctor with his yellow eyes closely.
"Her anatomy's a bit off. It troubles me." Hank looked at the assistant that he had borrowed from Professor Xavier and bit his tongue.
Kurt Wagner, known to the Munich circus as the Incredible Nightcrawler, had anything but normal anatomy. He had the visage of a demon with sharp teeth, only two fingers and a prehensile tail, but the heart of a devote Christian.
Hank wracked his brain to try and find an acceptable explanation when he heard angry voices on the other side of the door. Relieved at the interruption, he turned his ear to the argument building outside.
"I don't like it," Logan hissed.
"I suppose you think that I should have just left her by the side of the road," Scott snarled.
"Don't you think it's a little convenient that this kid falls right into your arms?" Logan asked, furiously.
"That's enough!" Professor Xavier intervened. "I'll not have you two at each other's throats. The child was injured and that's all we need to know until she wakes."
"You're awfully trusting, Chuck," Logan muttered. He crossed his arms and shook his head.
"And you're pretty suspicious for no reason, Logan," Scott retorted.
"I got my reasons," Logan growled.
"I would appreciate it if you shared them," Professor Xavier said calmly.
"It's her smell." Logan jerked an angry finger at his nose. "Something's not right. She smells familiar and at the same time, not human. She's not right."
"Are you trying to say she's some sort of machine?" Scott asked. He didn't bother hiding his skepticism. "Give me a break."
"She's wrong," Logan insisted. "She don't smell human."
"That's because she's not," Hank explained as he walked into the hallway. "Well, not entirely."
"What?" Scott demanded.
Logan gave a snide smirk.
"Do you care to elaborate, Dr. McCoy?" Professor Xavier asked.
"She's missing an arm," Hank replied. "And a leg, both on the left side. In their place are prosthetics. But the technology is far beyond anything that I've ever seen. It's rather intriguing."
"That's impossible," Scott spluttered. "I held her in my arms and carried her in here. There's no way that she's part machine. I would have known."
"It's true." Hank shrugged. "But the sheer complexity of the technology... It baffles me."
"Aside from her bizarre prosthetics," Professor Xavier interrupted. "Will the child be alright?"
"Yes." Hank nodded. "I've got her hooked up to an I.V., but nothing serious."
"Then we'll wait for her to wake." Professor Xavier shot both Scott and Logan with a hard look. "I'm sure that no one will try to interrogate her."
Logan scowled. Scott glared at Logan.
"Professor," Hank called out.
Professor Xavier turned to him. "Yes?"
"I took the liberty of calling my personal assistant, Warren Worthington," Hank said. "If I may, I would like to observe this girl for a while. I could set up my lab and continue my old research here if you will allow it."
Professor Xavier smiled. "You are always welcome here, Henry."
"Thank you," Hank stiffly answered.
In the medical bay, Kurt watched the unconscious girl closely. She hadn't moved since Scott had brought her into the mansion, but Dr. McCoy had assured Kurt that she would live.
Scars and tattoos marred her otherwise pretty face, yet the rest of her frail body was untouched. Peculiar, yet placed obviously on purpose. Perhaps the meaning of such markings was akin to the angelic glyphs he had worked into his own skin.
Kurt let a finger gently touch one of her scars. He traced the winding pink flesh until it twisted into the indigo ink of one of the tattoos.
"Rest easy, liebchen," he whispered. "You are safe."
The girl sighed and a smile briefly crossed her lips.
She was coming to. Kurt pulled a stool over by the cot to wait. It dawned on him that waking up to his face might terrify her, so he turned his head away.
"Elf," she murmured and placed her warm hand on his.
Her friendly gesture made him gasp and draw back in shock. Perhaps she wasn't completely coherent yet. Kurt decided that it must have been a mistake on her part.
"I will get the doctor, little one," he said softly. "You will be well taken care of."
A groan escaped the girl. "Where am I?" she asked.
"Safe," Kurt assured her.
She laughed to herself. "Safe," she muttered. "You must be crazy. Safe! Wait..."
She shimmied up to a sitting position in the cot. Her green eyes widened as she absorbed her surroundings. The rise and fall of her chest quickened. "Where am I?" she repeated.
"Westchester County, Salem Center," Kurt replied. "Charles Xavier's School for the Gifted Youngsters to be exact."
"Charles Xavier?" Her jaw seemed to be working futilely to form words. "This can't be."
She glanced down at herself, took in that she was wearing a hospital gown. Her hand patted the coarse linen that covered the cot she was on. She shook her head.
"Are you alright, liebchen?" Kurt's brows furrowed. "I can call for the doctor."
"This is all wrong," she stammered. She faced Kurt with a hard look. "What year is this?"
"I am going to call the doctor," Kurt replied.
"I don't need a doctor," the girl snapped.
She jerked the I.V. needle from her arm and stumbled out of the cot. "What I need is to know what year this is," she demanded.
"Please, calm down," Kurt pleaded. "You're still weak."
"Weak?" She looked at him abruptly. "Oh no. Mirror. I need a mirror."
She began to rummage through a nearby tray of doctor's instruments. Not able to find what she wanted she pulled out a drawer and dumped it on the cot. She plucked a laryngeal mirror from the heap of tools and held it in front of herself.
She gasped when she saw the tattoos and scars that laced her face. She dropped the mirror and swiped a hand over her visage. When her hand fell to her side the markings on her face had vanished.
"How did you?" Kurt's jaw dropped.
"No time," the girl insisted. "Where are my clothes?"
"All you had were some tattered leggings and a bodysuit." Kurt murmured.
She shrugged. "Be that as it may, I'm sure my clothes are slightly more fashionable than what I've got on now." She motioned to the hospital gown covering her boney frame.
"You are in no condition to go running amuck, child," Kurt warned.
She snorted. "I'll be the judge of that." Her limbs trembled as she searched through the cabinets.
Kurt teleported close to her and firmly gripped the girl's shoulders. "You need more rest," he said simply.
"I'm fine," she insisted.
She pushed Kurt away, only to pitch forward herself. He caught her in his arms and used his tail to support his body while he regained his footing.
"You are not fine." His eyes met with hers.
She chuckled. "Now, this is only hypothetical mind you," she said. "But if I were to say, hang out here for a little while, would that be okay?"
"You would be welcome with open arms." Kurt smiled.
"Maybe I'll just stick around for a bit then," she muttered.
"I'm glad," Kurt replied. "My name is Kurt Wagner."
She offered a hesitant smile. "I'm Rachel."