Title: Unto the Least of These
Author: Jordanna Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Setting: Boston, sometime before X2.
Summary: Alone in his church sanctuary on Christmas Eve, Kurt Wagner looks to his future.
Disclaimer: Marvel and Fox create the characters that sell. I’m simply playing with them.
Notes: Just a little Christmas present for my dear friend, Skybright Daye.
Unto the Least of These
Boston was a long way from Munich, the dilapidated church a far cry from the bright tents of the circus… and they had never felt more so than on Kurt Wagner’s first Christmas Eve in America.
In the silence of twilight, Kurt lay on his makeshift bed, his thoughts far from that small room with its few preserved artifacts of his life. He had awakened only a short time before; it was his habit to be active at night, as the daylight hours were useless to him. Only in darkness did he feel safe moving beyond the walls of his sanctuary.
A pale glow from distant streetlamps washed through the stained-glass windows, bathing the room in softly colored light. As Kurt stirred and turned his head with a sigh, an errant ray fell across his cheek through a pane of red glass, casting a violet hue over the sacred symbols etched upon his midnight-blue skin.
For three months now, he had sojourned here, alone in a strange country. It was the culmination of a restlessness that had been building in him for more than a year—but even now, he could not explain what had drawn him away from the safe and familiar world of the Munich Circus. All he was sure of was that God had stirred something new in his heart: a desire for more than the applause of the audience, or even the acceptance of his fellow performers. Even to himself, his impulse to cast himself upon the vast and bustling world seemed mad, but his disquietude had grown until he could no longer ignore it.
So he carefully packed his few clothes, his Bible and rosary and pirate movie posters, and bade farewell to the handful of precious people who cared for him. He made the journey to America aboard an old freighter whose kindly captain had been of service to the Circus in the past. They touched port in Boston, and there Kurt had stayed—taking as a sign his discovery of the abandoned church that became his refuge.
Yet he was now beginning to wonder if the choice had been right, after all.
For these three months, he had lived a marginal existence. By day he slept or prayed or read his Bible, hidden away in the rafters of the church; by night he prowled the city, ghosting from one rooftop to another, sometimes peering discreetly through windows to glimpse something of the lives of others. He could not escape the feeling that he was searching for something, but he knew not what, and this fruitless wandering had not stilled the dissatisfaction in his soul.
Kurt pushed aside his threadbare blanket and stood up, leaving the pale shards of colored light to scatter across the bed. The air that smelled of old wood and plaster and incense was crisp with the winter chill, and he pulled on his coat as he gazed out through one of the transparent panes that bordered the stained glass.
The street below was empty; tonight he would not venture out. On that evening when people most desired to be settled cozily at home with their loved ones, there would be few strangers to watch, and nothing of importance to see in the city beyond. More than that, looking through windows at Christmas trees and happy families would have made him unbearably homesick.
What am I doing here?
He turned away from the window and impulsively dropped to his knees beside the bed, clasping his cloven hands.
“Heavenly Father, show me the reason You have led me to this place,” he prayed softly in German. “Let it not be in vain that I followed Your word in my heart. Let me know that I have a place in Your purpose.”
The silence of the hallowed building was heavy. Kurt bowed his head, lost for a few moments in formless thoughts…
And then, far below his little room beneath the rafters, he heard the sound of the church’s stout door being dragged open.
Instantly alert and wary, Kurt stepped out onto the narrow landing. With hardly more effort than a thought, he teleported to a beam halfway across the ceiling of the church—a vantage point from which he had a clear view of the church doors, and yet would be well concealed even if someone chanced to look up. Tendrils of indigo vapor dissipated around him as he crouched on the timber, gazing down.
A woman had come into the church, and was now pushing the solid door shut again—and close to her stood a small blond-haired boy. Both of them were bundled in shabby, dirty clothes, and the woman was carrying a battered knapsack. As Kurt watched, she took the child’s hand and led him deeper among the pews, cautiously exploring the empty sanctuary.
As they passed beneath him, Kurt could read the weariness and despair in the woman’s face and movements, and an aching pang of sympathy thumped in his heart. Here then were the homeless and friendless, come to share his refuge unknowingly. It was by his own choice that he had consigned himself to a lonely Christmas in this hollow holy place, but he would have wished that upon no one else—especially not a child.
Having discovered a well-sheltered corner, the woman spread out a torn sleeping bag on the floor. Then she exchanged a few soft words with the boy, and took his hand again… and together they moved forward to the altar. She found the stub of an old candle and fumblingly lit it, then knelt down beside her child to pray.
Kurt felt a warm dampness brimming in his eyes. Almost without thinking, he teleported away, back to the landing and the doorway of his own little space.
In a corner of his room, he kept the box that was his makeshift larder. Impulsively he delved into it, taking out a number of items: bread, apples, a few simple canned goods, a bottle of fresh water. By the time he had bundled his collection into a spare blanket from beside the bed, the box was nearly empty.
Two swift teleports took him first to the rafter beam, and then down to the floor of the sanctuary, near the hidden corner where the sleeping bag was spread. Mother and child were still bowed in prayer, and neither appeared to notice the soft bamf that accompanied Kurt’s movements. He quickly set down his burden on top of the sleeping bag, then returned to the beam high above.
After a few more minutes, the mother tiredly pushed herself to her feet, taking the boy’s hand. They made their way back to the corner where they intended to bed down… and stopped in their tracks when they saw the bundle awaiting them.
Kurt’s pulse quickened as they hesitantly approached it. The mother warily bent down to tug loose the knotted blanket—and she let out an excited cry at the sight of the humble offering within. Her child bounced forward to see for himself, and with tears in her eyes, she swept him up into a hug. Kurt heard her say the word miracle; then he instinctively ducked behind a crossbeam as she looked heavenward, hands clasped in joyous gratitude.
With a glowing smile on his face, Kurt retreated through the ether to the doorway of his own room. He slipped inside and sat down on the edge of his bed. His large fingers sought and caressed his rosary beads; but instead of being bowed, his head was held high.
“Thank you for this sign, Heavenly Father. I will try to be patient, and await Your will.”
He knew now why he was here. It was well enough in life to entertain amusement-seekers in the circus, but his restlessness was the longing for a purpose far greater and deeper—and now he had received a glimpse of the joy of such meaning. In his heart, he suddenly knew that he was being led to serve something greater than himself…
And he knew just as surely that his chance to serve would come.
© 2008 Jordanna Morgan - send feedback