Choosing Paths

June 20, 2015:

Kurt comes to Jean for advice.

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Fade In…

Kurt drops by Jean's office hours after students have had their chance to make their way in. He's clad in a Hawaiian shirt and a pair of knee-length khaki shorts, his tail jutting out behind him and flicking idly. A cup of tea sits in his left hand, the string of the teabag dangling over an oversized finger.

"Jean? I hope I am not interrupting, I was just wondering if you had a moment? I wanted to talk about some things, as well as see if I could get caught up on current events. It seems to me that much has changed in my absence and, as usual, I am only picking up bits and pieces, secondhand. You are, in my experience, usually the best informed person among us and the most level-headed," he says. Many would not see it that way, but Kurt's experience with Jean has not been that of others. Where others have seen instability, he has seen that as an aberration from the norm - the Jean Grey he knows is smart, capable, determined. That she has faced tribulations others do not understand does not make her any less so.

Jean wasn't really that busy; she took over at least an hour of Scott's class while he did some important things on his end, even substituted a tiny bit until Beast had managed to submit his school lessons for next year to Xavier. While, teaching Science used to be her fortay, she hadn't forgotten how much she missed just a little bit of peace and quiet. The confused faces had gotten to her, along with the questions of 'What are you doing here Dr. Grey! Awesome!' were a bit cute, but silence is golden in this regard.

Her revolving door remained open, so it was easy for Kurt to enter, her green gaze lifted slightly as both brows raise, her mouth opening to speak, ready to answer the question as the words continue to flow. A slight lean within her chair is given, as she shakes her head a little, pushing from her chair to stand and round the way from her desk. "Lets walk to the kitchen and talk. It's a long day and I've not eaten yet." Might as well, right?

Kurt Wagner smiles, nodding his head, "But of course," he says. Kurt himself tends to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen - his spiritual sojourn in Europe brought him to many monasteries and, if there's one thing monks like to do other than pray and garden, it's cook. Especially bake. Kurt had been filling the air of the mansion with the smell of cookies and fresh-baked bread on a fairly regular basis since his return.

"The questions I have start in the simplest place, I suppose, although it is also complex: what is going on with the X-men? It seems to me that we were never more numerous but, at the same time, we were never more divided. Beyond these separate squads that have been decided upon, there is simply a lack of…purpose, it strikes me. I hear talk of the threats we face, but not enough of the philosophy we teach. We must be more than simply an opposition - we must be a cause in our own right,' he says.

He gives a soft laugh and shakes his head, "My apologies, Jean. I did not mean to break into a homily."

She walks along with him, hands behind her back, her brows lift as she gives a faint nod. She wasn't in a rush to get to the kitchen, her mind was working in the way that she needed to decide what she fancied eating, and how to properly answer his question. So, she takes the usual route.

"There are a many of differentiating opinion as to what is going on with and inside of the X-Men." She starts, pausing after every sentence, her gaze kept forward. "Some of the members have branched off to form their own sects because.." She pauses, offering a slight smile towards Kurt. "Now, this is purely speculation, that the way that Professor Xavier taught us is not their way. They want to be more open, more proud. More accepting. Whilst some of us are, but we're also more careful, more wary. More world weary than the rest."

She breathes out a little sigh, then shrugs lightly. "I do not like the separation but there is a need and must to let them fly and be free. As the saying goes."

Kurt Wagner sighs and shakes his head gently, 'I do not dispute that. Freedom of thought is a cornerstone. But if you cease to believe in Professor Xavier's mission…then you cannot be an X-man. You may be a hero, you may be help, but…ach, perhaps I am simply old-fashioned. I understand anger and I understand pride. No one has more motivation than me to create a world in which we can walk openly beneath the sun alongside humans as equals."

"But I fear that violence has become too marked, too common, too…easy. I am a devotee of the sword, but I do not unsheathe at the first sign of trouble. And being open is more than simple defiance or public relations - it is dialogue. Why bring all eyes upon you if you have nothing to say?" he says.

"I doubt they cease to believe his missive. But they understand it differently than what was hammered into our heads when we were younger than they." Jean corrects. She turns into the corridor, her pace quickening just a little. "You may be old fashioned, but I'm aware that you're a lot more forgiving than what you believe, Kurt. If they no longer believe, what is wrong in them assisting family? Their friends? Nothing, in my book."

Her brows furrow slightly, agreeing with a quiet nod of her head. "Yes. We are quick to act with violence. However, that is all that some of us knows." Jean was a tortured soul. She's known violence, not at the scale of others. She has doled a few out herself… a billion few..

"Peoples beliefs are different than yours and mine. If you really wish to know the answer, stay with them for a while. Listen, talk to them as you would. Give them counsel in my stead. Do not just go off of my own interpretations of what I believe has happened." She turns into the kitchen now, her path drawing her straight for the fridge as she ducks her head inside.

"What incident brought all of this on?"

Kurt Wagner considers and shakes his head, 'No incident, really, just…a feeling. Disharmony. The rumblings of people disgruntled with one another," he sighs. "You are right, of course. And I do not mean to sound as if I am sitting in judgment. None but God Almighty may judge. I suppose what is at the heart of my concern is the feeling that…I do not know where I belong anymore," he says.

"The X-men have been my home for most of my adult life and always will be, to one degree or another. I simply do not know where I belong. I can teach some subjects, but I'm no educator, not like you or Hank - I'm a poor substitute, at best. Perhaps it is merely that I lost my vocation - that I thought I heard the calling and, now that I have realized otherwise, I am unsure of what to do with myself."

He chuckles, "Ah, Jean. You see, here I thought I was showing concern for all, but you help me see that I am only feeling sorry for myself. The human heart, it always beats strongest for itself, ja?

Jean listens quietly as she begins to assemble her treat. Veggies were soon pulled from the fridge and promptly washed, her suit jacket is soon removed, suffering from droplets of water and left to hang upon the back of a chair. Still, she says nothing, drawing every thing to the cutting counter, occasionally glancing up towards Kurt as he begins to quietly, no.. verbally muse his thoughts. She begins to chop the veggies in proper order, slowly drawing her hand away from the knife as she rests her hand upon the counter, allowing the knife to work for itself with precision by way of TK.

"Ja." She confirms, giving a warm smile and a slight nod of her head. "You leave and return to a house divided and do not know which way your cookie should crumble." One arm lifts in a faint shrug. "You have all the time in the world to decide what you need to do and how to do it, Kurt. It's alright to be selfish in this matter to avoid personal turmoil." She avoids pressing her will upon him, but instead, remains an ear. "Salad?"

Kurt Wagner watches Jean work, taking some time himself to get down a bit of flour, eggs, salt, starting to work on making some biscuits. He's found that he likes breakfast at just about any time of day, and fresh baked biscuits make just about anything taste better. "Perhaps I should open a bakery, ja? Nightcrawler's Nibbles doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, though," he teases.

"I realize that there is no rush, but I like feeling as though I have a purpose. Of late, I am just playing welcome wagon and making tea and cookies for people. And there is honor in that, but I am more than that," he says. "What about you, Jean? How are things with you, beyond the team?"

Jean laughs as the veggies were soon swiped into the bowl with a knife, everything done by it's own, the little assistance from Jean was the push to keep her powers up to date and active. "If that is what you wish to do, then I'd be your number one customer. I do enjoy the cookies every now and then. Among other sorts that are cooked up by your hand." She smiles warmly, the compliment given as a small plate flies from the cupboard to rest upon the counter. She doles herself out a few lumps of salad by her own hand, a chair slowly sliding near in which she takes a seat upon and begins to eat. With a fork. It was just there.

"Perhaps, instead of guiding others to find their way Kurt, it's time to focus on the self. You said it yourself, you realize that there is no rush, and if we need you for missions we'll call. Take time for yourself again. Find the answers that you need."

Though, once everything turns back upon her, she takes a bite of her salad, chewing just a touch. It needed a bit of vinegar. That sharpness would do the veg nicely. And pepper.

She stands to grab the condiments, her brow furrowing a little, pausing as she holds both items close. "Things are well. Sleep hardly ever comes as it used to, but work is steady and forever piling so that bides the time."

Kurt Wagner molds dough into biscuit form, his large-fingered hands especially good for this sort of work. There were finer elements of some cooking that troubles him, but baking was all about precise measurement and, luckily, he could manage that well enough. And as for knifework, well, he was a virtuoso with much longer and sharper blades than kitchen knives. "I will try, mein freund. I, like you, am not prone to idleness."

"Being busy is good, but I hope you are not letting work consume you too very much. It is one thing to keep oneself occupied, another to wear oneself out. And I know you well enough, Jean, to know that you are selfless enough to put your own needs behind those of others all too often," he says.

He considers for a moment before he asks one more question, "And…Scott?" he asks.

The vinegar was carefully sprinkled upon her salad; any stronger than what she dashed upon it would have made it inedible. Pepper was soon dashed to her liking, and soon she begins to eat again, twisting her plate this and that ever so slightly, nodding a little.

"Everything and nothing at all consumes me. You know this." Jean chides, but it was a joking tone, not one of dismissal. "Work is something that allows me to sleep just an extra hour at night, where as I get none. It eases and quiets my mind. Two hours of paperwork grants me a half nights a sleep." She bites into a piece of lettuce, then points her fork towards Kurt.

"There are a few children that I am going to assign to you, however. Speaking of work. I do believe that they could use your guidance on matters that I cannot readily assist them with."

As Scott is brought up, there was a hint of blush that dawns upon her cheeks, however.. there was worry in that gaze as well. Yet it was not her secret to tell. She looks down into her plate, picking through the salad with a fork. "What about Scott?"

Kurt Wagner dusts the flour off of his hands, having tucked his biscuits into the oven. He turns a chair sideways, straddling it and resting his hands on his chin. His tail snakes over and opens up the fridge, drawing a beer out of the door and bringing one to his hand. "I am, of course, always happy to serve as you need, Jean. I know that I have been meaning to give young Claire some help in unlocking her teleportation talents, although hers seems to function differently than mine - I wonder if Henry might not be a better help, with the physics involved and such," he says.

He smiles at the blush and shrugs, "Ah, where you and Scott Summers are concerned, mein freund, that is a loaded question indeed, which is why I lobbed it into your lap rather than mine. I have not seen Scott since I have returned. He is doing well, I hope? How are…things between the two of you?"

"And he has a purpose after all." Jean muses, watching him work for the moment as she focuses upon her salad. It was almost gone, so she leaves the bit alone in favor for water. "You mind, Kurt?" She didn't want to leave her seat. The suggestion that falls upon him is what she desired at the moment. Water, glass, ice. Three words that ring within his mind as he looks to her.

She draws in a slight breath, keeping her gaze upon her plate of food, fingers lifting and wriggling as a small cherry tomato is drawn from the plate. "Scott is doing well, yes."

But as far as the two were concerned? It makes her blush even more. "Between the two of us.. ah.." How could she answer this. "..better, I suppose. No. Not suppose, it makes me sound unsure. Solid, is the words the young ones are using these days. And even through it all, he still remains my best friend and most trusted confidante, aside from our resident Blue Priest, of course."

Kurt Wagner gives a playful half-bow at the honor of being named a confidante, getting a glass of ice water together easily enough and carrying it over to her. "Good. Solid is excellent, in fact - a foundation to be built upon, rather than a wave upon which one must float," he says.

He returns to his seat, running a hand through his blue-black hair, his colorful shirt all the brighter for the contrast to his features. "It seems there has been a sudden influx of new blood of late. The girl, Blink. A boy calling himself Wiccan, who claimed to be a refugee from another world. Not the first, from what I am hearing," he sighs. "So often I am reminded that the world is far stranger than even I can imagine, despite so many of my experiences. You would think that I had seen everything, and yet…"

"..You ain't seen nothing yet." Jean syncs up, reaching out to take the water as she allows herself a small gulp. "You have not met my children yet, have you?" That causes Jean to laugh a little, drawing her hand upright. "I will not spoil it for you. No."

The glass was pressed upon the counter top, fork taken yet again as she begins to dive in. "It's strange what we're allowed and can deal with and the things that we refuse to." She munches quietly, leaving the cherry tomato to float as it will. "Though, I would like to meet those two. The otherworldly types allow me a bit of vanity when I ask if I'm dead there or not yet." She frowns a little then, slowly putting down her fork.

Perhaps, it was a bad time to go there..

Kurt Wagner sips momentarily, laughing and shaking his head, "Ah, I have not met them, no, but I have heard some telling, yes. One does not have multiple offspring from the future show up and not have it become a subject of gossip, I am afraid, mein freund," he says. "Such things are…difficult to wrap your head around, I am sure. But, from what I have been told, such futures are not the future, simply possible futures. The path is never entirely set, merely laid down, but it is our decisions which will choose which fork we travel. Perhaps they can give us guidance as to the forks best chosen - and, at the very least, you have more family. Family is rarely a bad thing," he says.

He considers for a moment, "It does not do to dwell greatly on our own mortality, liebchen. We all must, of course, for we are mortal. All we may do is strive our best and trust that, when our time comes, we face it with honor and the knowledge that we did our best."

Jean laughs a little. "I know. But the funny thing is, they're possibly nearly older and may just very well be wiser in their own route. One is not really my son, but grown in a lab. Another is.. complicated. One is my actual daughter with Scott and calls us mom and dad. They're apparently dead where she comes from."

She does nod, her food forgotten, only focusing upon the water for now. Her lips form a tight purse, her green eyes nearly lidding as she gives a shake of her head. "It wasn't dwelling. Just odd curiosity. I doubt that which ever and whatever path I decide to take is the one that leaves me in the grave for a third time with no hope to return."

She lets out a little laugh, then finishes off her water. "But never mind that. Have you decided in short order where your path lies with us? Or is more time needed."

Kurt Wagner shakes his head, "I do not know how I would adjust to that, having someone show up and claim me as their father, future or otherwise. My family has been of the adopted sort, always. It would be special, I think, but also disconcerting," he says. "I suspect I have little chance of it happening to me, however."

He lets the musings on mortality die away a lot. His own feelings on the subject are, of course, bound up in his faith. And, while he is not shy about his beliefs, he also does not press them on others - he found his peace in his own way and he tries to allow others to do the same. Proselytization, in his experience, is rarely welcome and often does more harm than good.

"Activism. Counselling. And, thinking on what the Professor had to say some time ago…being open. I realized that I need to walk the world more openly, more fully. I will keep my projector, for there are times when it is good not to be disruptive. But, when I am going about my business, I wish to endeavor to do it more as myself."

"You just go in without a plan and accept it. Perhaps that is my problem. I'm more accepting than most." Jean shrugs her shoulders faintly, then draws to a stand, the plate and cup carried with her to the sink. "You never really know Kurt. The possibility is there. Some time, some place in the future there is a woman that you love, or possibly in another universe and you two make with the birds and bees. Somehow, that world gets destroyed and they're just here. Waiting for you to accept them with open arms." Jean doesn't seem annoyed in the slightest. She was just stating her own fact.

But, his plan was a good one. One that has her nodding her head as the dishes were rinsed and set aside for a proper wash. Another saucer was retrieved, as well as a bottle of syrup as she waits for the biscuits to fluff and cook. "Very well." Jean says, a little bit of pride in her voice. "If you need us, Scott and I. We'll be there for you in a flash."

Kurt Wagner laughs softly, "Well, I confess, such a world sounds very far away and unlikely to me at the moment. I say that not out of self-pity, just..such has been the facts of my life for some time. After Amanda, I never really met anyone else. I don't even know where she is anymore and I'm not sure we were suited for one another anyway…everything was so complicated there," he sighs.

"But I will try to keep an open mind," he says. "And I know that you will. You and Scott have always been the fastest of friends. You, Logan, Piotr, Kitty…you have all seen me at my best and my worst. I hope I can live up to the good that you have shown me," he says. "And the same goes in return - I may be no soldier, but I will always be an X-man. I will be here in two poofs of a mutant's tail," he grins.

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