Disclaimer: If Kurt and the rest of the X-Men belonged to me, he would still be alive and few if any X-Men would ever have died.
A/N: May be a little confusing at first. Thanks to Elfdame for the beta!
The night was unusually quiet, for downtown New Orleans in the summertime. That was because it was raining. Rain drummed against roofs and walls, rolled off of gutters and jutted out of drainpipes. Water flooded the streets with puddles. But there were no hurricane warnings. This was simply a “mild tropical downpour.”
Only one man walked the streets, wearing a heavy trench coat that was turned up at the collar and a large floppy hat. His hands were stuck deep in his pockets and his clothing obscured his features in shadow. Water ran off his hat in little cascades that splattered on the streets and spattered against his rather large galoshes.
The trench coat seemed unperturbed by the rain. He walked through the downpour with his eyes on the ground, watching the sidewalk in front of his feet, not looking up at the little lights twinkling in the windows of the hotels nearby, where people laughed and talked and partied.
The trench coat stopped suddenly at the end of the street, staring up at the sign. He looked down the lane to the left, contemplating the dark narrow alley, and then chose to go to the right. Though his face was covered in shadow, to the casual passerby he seemed as though he was looking for something.
The casual passerby, happening upon this man, would’ve have found it difficult to believe that his errand was entirely legal. The trench coat moved with the air of a spy and kept his face hidden. Were one to pass by him in the street on this cool, rainy night, one would shiver as touched by a ghost, for his manner was cold and his intent grave.
But no one passed the trench coat traveling through the rain. Only this man walked by in the downpour, oblivious to the puddles and the splashes of late-night buses throwing grimy water against his boots. He was looking for something, or perhaps for someone, and he did not stop or look up except to navigate by the street signs.
Finally, it seemed as though the man in the trench coat had found what he was looking for. Beneath large, sputtering neon sign he paused, then slowly walked down a short dock, to the doorway of a floating casino.
The casino boat looked liable to sink into the Mississippi at any moment. A tall bouncer, wearing a suit jacket, his arms crossed menacingly over his chest, stood blocking the door. The trench coat walked straight up, had a few soft words with the bouncer, and then went into the casino.
Suffocating crowds of people huddled around tables of craps and poker and a hundred other skill and luck games. The air was filled with the smell of smoke, sweat, and alcohol. But the light was dim and shadowy, which seemed to suit the patrons of the murky casino quite well. Our trench coat stood in the doorway until he found what he was looking for, and then made his way over to one of the blackjack tables in the back.
The dealer at this particular table was leaning against it in a cavalier manner, shuffling and reshuffling his deck of cards. The shadow of the wide brim of a hat hid his eyes from sight. Two other men also sat at the table, their game just ended; debating if they had enough left for one more go.
The trench coat walked right up to the table and sat down. From within one of his enormous pockets, he pulled out a small sum of money. He laid it on the table with three large, blue fingers, his black nail tapping against the top bill. “Deal me in,” he said. His slight German accent made him seem like a stereotypical villain in a B-movie.
The dealer looked up quickly, and for a second the shadows of both hats were lifted. A pair of glowing yellow eyes stared into red and black flames. The dealer glared at the intruder, and then he looked down at his deck again.
The two men, who had decided they had enough money left for one more game, pointedly ignored the trench coat’s three-fingered hands as they, too, placed their first bets. The dealer shuffled once more and began to lay the cards down.
The trench coat did not appear to care about the game. He stared at the dealer the whole time, those yellow eyes never straying from that shadowed face. As the dealer began to send out the next round of cards, the trench coat leaned forward and said, “You broke her heart, Remy.”
It was not a question, nor was it an accusation; it was a statement of fact purely for the dealer’s information. The dealer’s eyes locked onto his deck of cards and his eyebrow hunched low over his eyes, but he did not look up or make any sign that he had heard. Instead he dealt the last card up to himself. It was a two of diamonds.
The trench coat said it again. “You broke her heart, Remy.” This time there was an element of stern reproach in his words.
“Oui?” the dealer muttered as he dealt to the first man. His voice held the colloquial accent of one born and raised in the French quarter of New Orleans. “And if I did?”
“She’s my sister,” was the trench coat’s curt reply. “You broke her heart and then you took off.”
The dealer kept up the conversation as he dealt the game out, “Gonna beat ol’ Remy up for hurting ta soeur?”
“‘Revenge belongs to God alone,’” the trench coat quoted, “I have no need for vengeance. I don’t even need you to tell me why you broke her heart. What I would like to know is why you came running back here.” The dealer did not answer, did not even look up at the trench coat.
The strange man pressed his advantage. “Were you afraid of the X-Men, Remy?” he asked, “Did you think we would hunt you down for your past crimes? Then why come back to the city you knew would be the first place we would look?
“Or did you, perhaps, realize this? Did you hope that we would come looking for you, that she would come after you, to explain that everything was forgiven?”
The dealer’s eyes were hidden from sight, and yet one would’ve sworn his eyes flashed furiously. “Remy don’t hide.”
“Of course not.” The game proceeded uninhibited for a short time, but the dealer was quiet and said nothing as they played. Nor did the trench coat speak, staring at the dealer’s face once more as if trying to catch a glimpse of those fiery eyes.
The trench coat lost the blackjack game. The men who had been playing moved on, leaving just these two at the blackjack table in the corner.
The dealer turned to the trench coat. “Leave,” he said, “Unless you’re playing another game.”
The trench coat laid another few bills on the table. “Let’s play.”
The dealer’s face hardened, but he couldn’t refuse as long as the man had money. So they played.
The trench coat lost, and lost badly, yet each time a game ended, he put down a bet and another game was played. Other players came and went, but the trench coat stayed at that table. The dealer dealt the cards with a brutal hand, frequently glaring at his unwelcome adversary. Several times he looked up at the bouncer, as though ready to kick him out, but each time he did so the trench coat shot him a fanged smile, and the dealer seemed to think better of it.
Finally, late into the night, the dealer gathered up his last cards, and told the trench coat, “It’s over. You can go now.”
The trench coat stood. “I need to talk to you,” he said.
The dealer frowned, took the cash from the table, and left for the back room. The trench coat looked after him for a minute before turning and walking out the door.
The dealer went into the back room and turned in the money to the man in charge. He went into the coat room and dawdled there for a minute, chatting suavely with the young woman at the counter. Then he got his large raincoat, pulled the hood up over his head, and exited the boat through a back door.
He paused in the doorway for a second, his red and black eyes scanning the dock for anything sinister or out of place. Finally he stepped forward, his feet falling firmly against the familiar old wood, and began walking away.
A burst of bright purple smoke swallowed him. He opened his mouth to cry out, but he gagged on the sulfurous gases. As he was still coughing, a pair of strong arms locked across his chest. With another BAMF they were gone.
Wheezing and sputtering, the dealer staggered as soon as he reached their new destination. A hand grabbed the back of his coat and steadied him. “Careful, mein Freund,” a voice said, “You don’t want to move too far.”
The dealer opened his stinging eyes and saw that he was standing on an outcrop on an enormous old cathedral. He coughed once more and took a step back from the edge.
“What’d you bring me here for?” the dealer demanded, whirling on his kidnapper.
The trench coat looked at him without alarm. “I told you, I need to talk to you.”
The dealer gestured at their surroundings. “But here of all places?”
The trench coat grinned. “I have been living here. I blend easily into this place. One of your gargouilles.”
“But you never go inside,” said the dealer, “Because those same gargouilles were made to keep evil spirits like you out.”
The trench coat stopped smiling. “I want to talk to you, Remy.”
The dealer turned his back cautiously, trying not to slip on the rain-slicked roof. “I don’t want to hear it.”
“No, listen.” The strange hand descended onto the dealer’s shoulder. “She doesn’t care, Remy. She wants you back, no matter what you’ve done, to her, to society, to anybody. She still loves you.”
The dealer shook his head. “She’s a fool,” he said, “A fool for loving a man like me.”
“But she does. And there’s no destroying that, Remy. She wants you back. She’s heartbroken without you.”
“I can’t go back. Not after what I did to her… to them.”
The trench coat looked exasperated. “You really think we care about that, don’t you? Remy, you’re an X-Man. Nobody cares what you did in your youth and your ignorance. All of us have done awful things. Mein Gott, Remy, I killed my own brother. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. To err is human.”
“To forgive, divine.” The dealer finished the sentence. “You think you’re all gods, then?”
“No, Remy,” said the trench coat, “We’re men.”
In another sudden BAMF, the dealer found himself back in that dark alleyway he had exited not too long ago. Coughing once more at the nauseous gas, he stumbled forward. Seconds before he fell on the wet dock, he caught his balance. Straightening, he squinted through the rain. If he looked hard enough, he thought he could see his agile abductor vaulting over the rooftops of New Orleans. A grin slowly crept across his face and he turned down the street, heading back to his home.
A/N: It was very, very hard to pick just one aspect of Nightcrawler that I liked, and I was planning on putting together an enormous scene that would incorporate all the aspects of him that I love, but then I decided that this was probably one of my favorite stories I've ever written, and has one of my favorite sides of Kurt, so I thought I might as well put this one up.
As for timelining this -- idk. I sort of placed it somewhere after Rogue kissed Gambit and she found out about the whole Morlock thing.
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- Butt Monkey
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"A dedicated follower of nothing." -- graffitit artist in Brick Lane, London, England.RIP Kurt Wagner. You were the character who brought in me into comics, who introduced me and inspired me. Now your death has sent me away again. Wherever you are in the Marvel Universe, I hope its someplace pleasant.
Right across the lane from the demon and just down the wall from Wolverine.
Right across the lane from the demon and just down the wall from Wolverine.