"No." Charles Xavier seemed to be searching for the correct words. "Telepathically, I'm the more powerful. But those psionic shields she erected are far more complex and effective than any I've ...
"I'm sure you did," Hank murmured. The doctor was too busy examining his patient to give his assistant a second glance.
Warren stopped in his tracks. A lock of blond hair fell across his forehead. "The girl's awake."
"Her name is Rachel," Hank said. "And yes, she's awake and doing quite nicely actually."
"If I'm doing so nicely, why can't I just leave?" Rachel muttered. She shifted her weight onto her right foot, the oversized sweatshirt she was wearing seemed to engulf her entire shape.
Hank ignored her.
"I don't understand." Warren brushed the strand of hair away from his face. "She looks perfectly healthy. Why did you sound so urgent when you called?"
"Rachel is quite the enigma," Hank muttered.
Rachel rolled her eyes.
"Didn't you say when you called that she had several strange markings on her face?" Warren asked.
"She did," Hank replied.
"They're not important." Rachel's brows furrowed. "I'd appreciate it if you stopped mentioning them."
"So you say." Warren looked at her critically. "But how did you make them disappear?"
"What makes you think I made them disappear?" she snapped. "Maybe I made them appear."
"You created facial markings for no apparent reason and maintained them while you were unconscious?" Warren raised an eyebrow.
Rachel glared at him.
"The little mystery surrounding Rachel's facial tattoos can be ignored for the moment," Hank cut in gently. "She is interesting with or without them."
"You better take your pictures and blood samples and whatever else you want while you can," she warned. "As soon as I get better, I'm getting out of here."
"I'm sure you are." Hank sighed. "Stick out your tongue, please."
Rachel groaned, but complied. The pink, glistening muscle donned a plain metal stud. Warren looked far from impressed.
"You wanted to show me a girl's body piercing?" he asked.
"If you're going to be so negative, I'm going to have to ask you to shush," Hank replied. "Rachel, do you mind if I manhandle your tongue?"
Any comment that Rachel intended to give was muffled by Hank McCoy's gloved fingers gripping her tongue. He tugged at the stud and held a magnifying glass over it.
"Look at it closely, Warren," Hank instructed. "Have you ever seen technology like that?"
"What does it do?" Warren wondered.
Hank looked up at his assistant and hesitated. "I don't know," he said. "I'd like to take it out and apart to examine it further, but I'm afraid that Rachel might need it for whatever it does."
Rachel shot the doctor an irritated look and brushed his hand off of her tongue. She cleared her throat loudly.
"As much as I hate to interrupt you two," she said. "I'd like to make sure that you realize I'm a person and not a guinea pig."
Color blossomed in Warren's ears. Hank laughed nervously.
"I understand that, and that's why I wanted to confer with my assistant," Hank explained. "I'd like to be able to comprehend the complexity of the technology in your possession, but the easiest way to do that would be to take it out and dissect it."
Rachel's eyes narrowed and her lower lip jutted out. She crossed her arms tightly.
"I wasn't suggesting that was what I planned to do," Hank exclaimed. "I'm trying to decide on the best course of action that would let me examine your technology while leaving it both intact and connected to your body."
"That's better." The wary expression didn't leave her face.
The door opened and Kurt walked in, a fast food bag in his hands. He headed to the counter and unloaded the contents of the bag.
"Rachel looked like she could use a meal," Kurt explained.
"Thanks, Elf." Rachel grinned. She joined him at the counter and grabbed the burger he offered.
Hank immediately plucked it from her hands. He shook his head at her scowl.
"Not yet, missy." Hank pushed his glasses back up his nose. "If you cram that down your throat like I suspect you want to, your body will probably end up rejecting it. Start with the milkshake and we'll work up from there, okay?"
Rachel gave a defiant snort, but graciously accepted the milkshake. Her cheeks seemed to cave in as she furiously sucked on the straw. Hank gave Kurt a sidelong glance as the other man hesitated in the room.
"You look like you want to say something," Warren said.
"Oh." Kurt grinned sheepishly. "The professor was hoping to meet with Rachel now that she's up. He wanted to show her around the school and introduce her to some of the other students."
"Professor Xavier wants to meet me?" A peculiar smile came to Rachel's face. The girl seemed almost star-struck.
"It appears so," Hank grumbled. "Go ahead and see the professor."
"Dr. McCoy!" Warren protested. "We still need to examine her-"
"First we need to figure out how we're going to examine her," Hank cut in firmly. "She doesn't need to be here while we discuss the options. Besides, I've got some X-Rays that I'd like your opinion on."
"Follow me," Kurt requested.
Rachel nodded. He led her out of the medical bay and through the winding hallways of Charles Xavier's mansion. The hardwood floors were covered with a fine Oriental carpet that Rachel's socked feet thudded along lightly. She still held her half-finished milkshake protectively in her hands.
"Elf." Rachel stopped walking.
Nightcrawler turned around to face her with a smile. "Kurt, please."
"I'm sorry." She concentrated on flicking the straw to her milkshake. "Does it upset you that I call you that?"
"I suppose it's better than 'demon' or 'freak'," he replied. "Why do you call me that, anyway?"
Rachel blinked. "I don't know, I guess," she said finally. "I don't mean anything by it. I'll stop if you want me to. I just wanted to say thanks."
Kurt cocked his head to one side. "What are you thanking me for?"
She laughed. "Well, not only did you save me, but you stayed by my side until I woke up."
He shook his head. "You are mistaken, liebchen," he said. "I was there when you first opened your eyes, this is true. But I did not rescue you."
"Oh." Rachel blinked. "If it wasn't you, then who was it? I highly doubt that the good doctor or his assistant was involved."
"Scott brought you into the school," Kurt said.
"Scott?" Rachel swallowed hard.
"Yes," Kurt affirmed. "Scott Summers. I am sure you will meet him soon."
"Meet him..." She smiled warmly. "Well, thanks for being there when I woke up anyway. It's always reassuring to see a kind face."
"Gern geschehen," he replied. "It was no trouble. Now, please, we must not keep the professor waiting."
Kurt continued to walk down the hallway and Rachel shuffled after him. When they reached Professor Xavier's office, Kurt opened the door and ushered Rachel in.
Charles Xavier was seated in his wheelchair behind his desk. Scott Summers, the school's first student, was in a leather backed chair. He stood immediately upon seeing Kurt and Rachel.
"I take it that you're Rachel," Professor Xavier said.
Rachel nodded. The hairs on the back of her neck pricked up as she felt a psionic hand swiftly graze over her mind.
"Rachel what?" the professor asked.
"Just Rachel," she answered quickly. She fiercely rubbed the hairs back down on her neck.
"You are safe here, child," Professor Xavier assured. "There is no need for the psionic blocks you've erected in your mind."
"I'll be the judge of that," Rachel answered quietly.
Professor Xavier gave a warm smile but nodded. "Of course." He directed her gaze towards Scott. "You may remember Scott Summers as he was the one who found you."
"Yes," she murmured. Her eyes darted over the planes of Scott's face as if she planned to burn them into her memory. "I remember him."
"Scott informed me that you appeared to be running away from something." Professor Xavier said.
"Yeah, I guess so." Rachel shivered. She pulled her arms tightly around her waist.
"If you're in trouble, maybe the X-Men could help you," Scott spoke up.
Rachel's face softened for the man known as Cyclops. "I don't know if the X-Men could help me just yet. Or anybody else." She smiled. "But thanks for the offer. And thanks for before."
"Oh, that." Scott's ears colored pink. He cleared his throat. "It was nothing."
"I trust that you're aware of this being a school for children such as yourself," Professor Xavier said.
Rachel nodded. "I heard."
"You are welcome to stay and learn as long as you like," Charles Xavier offered.
"Thank you," she murmured.
Rachel extended her right hand, her real hand, and shook first Professor Xavier's hand, then Scott's. After that was over, she immediately snaked her hand behind her back. She began to rock from the balls of her feet to her heels and she grinned at Kurt impishly.
"I'm glad that we were finally able to meet." The professor smiled. "I would like to speak with Scott privately for a moment, however, so you'll have to excuse me. Kurt will introduce you to the other students and we'll join you shortly."
Kurt turned to Rachel and offered her his arm. She beamed and linked her arm with his. They strolled out into the corridor.
"She is a rather interesting child," Professor Xavier mused.
"What do you mean?" Scott asked.
"That girl has immense telepathic abilities," Professor Xavier said. "It's amazing, really."
"Is she stronger than you?" Scott's brows furrowed.
"No." Charles Xavier seemed to be searching for the correct words. "Telepathically, I'm the more powerful. But those psionic shields she erected are far more complex and effective than any I've ever had the need to create."
"So you think she's had training?" Scott pressed.
"It's likely," the bald man murmured. "It's also likely due to the way she seemed to appear out of thin air for you that this child is also multi-talented."