Title: Cause and Effect//Dare to Strike a Spark
Pairing: Scott/Logan, Jubilee/Kitty, Xander/Ororo
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the X-Men
parts 2 & 3 of the Fate of the X-Men series
It's so easy to completely destroy a life. One little tug, and POOF! everything falls apart and only misery is left behind.
Sometimes he thinks that ruining someone's life is funner than just killing them. To take everything away from them, but to leave them alive at the end, to let them spend their last days of life miserable and alone and persecuted by the world around them. It's almost sweet tasting.
His is a powerful gift, though he uses it sparingly. He has been warned time and time again about cause and effect, and he has learned his lessons well. His lesser gifts are there free for him to play with, but his Alpha-mutation… the use of that one has to be thought out very carefully, because the consequences can be unexpectedly dire, even if all he did was nudge things a little.
He used to wonder if maybe pieces of him melted away each time he used his power. It was like, after he changed something, a bit more of his soul would be gone at the end of the day. He used to wonder if maybe someday he would look in the mirror and not recognize his own face. He would be someone else through and through.
He didn't worry anymore, though. It didn't seem to matter. What would be, would be, and he would take it as it came.
The Danger Room was where he spent most every afternoon, training harder and longer than most anyone else. The only one that trained harder than him was Wolverine, and that didn't really count because amnesiac-Wolverine didn't really seem to have a life outside of the Institute.
Xander knew that he didn't have much, but at least he had a beautiful girlfriend, a gorgeous best friend, and the letters he shared with his old best friend Willow. He hadn't seen her in years, but they still corresponded regularly through e-mail and snail-mail both. Every message he sent to or received from her made him feel a warm surge of contentment deep inside, that even though the X-Men were a huge--colossal, major--part of his life, they were not the be all and end all of his existence. If he wanted, he could find himself some kind of an existence outside of the Institute. He wasn't trapped in his mutant, superhero skin. He could be someone else if he wanted, and it was only his choice to stay that kept him living this life day by day.
Wolverine though… all the guy had was Marie, his senseless lust for Jean, and his envy of Scott and the "perfect" life he had. It was kind of pitiful really, though kind of understandable. You live that long then lose your memory, and all you'd have at the end of the day was what you could find for yourself.
While he wasn't exactly close to Logan, Xander could understand where the guy was coming from, and there was a definite vibe between Scott and Logan. For the sake of his friend, Xander was perfectly willing to give Wolverine a chance. And he seriously liked Logan more than he did Jean.
Now he had a lot more in common with Logan than he'd ever had, which meant he had to like him more. That was the way things were supposed to work. You get shared interests, bond a little, and BOOM! friends forever, or something like that. He wasn't completely one hundred percent sure of the mechanics of it all. Though he knew it had something to do with someone not being alive anymore, at least in this case.
I don't think I've ever killed anyone before, not like this, he thought, almost wonderingly. If I've ever killed someone with my powers, then I don't remember it. Today is a day of firsts.
Xander dragged a hand through his hair. He was pretty sure that he should be more bothered about taking a human life than he was. In fact, he was more worried about not feeling much of anything than he was about actually killing people. It was pretty weird.
"Hey Xannie, you all right?"
Xander turned and gave Scott a bright grin. "Fine. How about you?"
"Living. I was really worried there for a minute, you know? I thought for sure there were too many of them and we weren't going to get out of there alive."
Xander patted him on the shoulder. "Better not let the minions hear you talk like that, Scotty. They'll get all scared and wet their pants. Leader boy's always supposed to be in control, no matter the situation."
They stood off to one side in their own little well of silence, away from the other X-Men. Scott was always careful never to be overheard when he voiced his doubts. He was a conscientious field leader, and he didn't make stupid mistakes, never made any mistake more than once.
Xander couldn't say as much. He'd made some bad mistakes in his time, though he never let them get him down. Like Machiavelli wrote, "The ends justify the means." So as long as things ended up the way they were supposed to, who cared about the few little hitches along the way? Like the fact that Xander had killed twenty people today--more than killed them, wiped them out of existence. It was as if those seventeen men and three women had never existed.
Being as powerful as he was, he knew that it was a little like being God. He had the ability to literally change peoples' destinies. He had control over whether a person lived or died. It was a terrifying power. And he'd used it today… for the good of the team.
What a load of crap, he thought. I didn't do it for the team. The team would have survived the loss of one member. I did it for Scott. There's no way he would have been able to go on all guilt free with Logan's body cold on the ground. Those two need each other, even if they're too pigheaded to admit it yet. I couldn’t let things end like that. So I killed a bunch of people. Who cares. They were trying to kill us. They deserved to die. It doesn't matter, and no one ever has to know.
That was the great thing about his prime mutation. Once he made a change, no one but him had to know about it unless he wanted them to.
Scott thought that they had walked into an ambush of forty humans with guns, mostly small arms and a few machine guns. They had been badly outnumbered, but they were the X-Men and they had won through, even if it hadn't been the whole team, just Scott, Xander, Logan, and the two junior members Jubilee and Kitty. What Scott didn't know was that there had originally been sixty humans with machine guns, rocket launchers and grenades. Scott didn't know that Logan had been about to die a bloody, painful death at the hands of bigoted human supremacists.
The minute Xander had seen all the enemies facing their small group, he had known things were way out of control. They had fought with all the power of the possessed, but they were being driven back. Then Xander had seen the blue dot over Logan's heart turn critical red.
When he was looking at people, Xander could see who was going to live and who was going to die. It looked to him like they were overlaid with a kind of holographic image. Over their hearts were fist-sized blobs of color with the silver tendrils of possibility flowing from their cores. The blobs told him what was going to happen to a person; when they were blue, the person was in normal health, gray was someone with some kind of slow-acting debilitating sickness like cancer, pink veins running through a blue dot was a future pregnancy, two blue dots overlapping was a pregnancy, and red meant the person was going to die. And when the person died, their dot faded to black before disappearing, and once that happened, their fate was set and not even Xander could bring them back.
It had been while he was clawing at enemies and shooting plasma bolts that Xander had glanced over at his teammates and been horrified to see Logan's dot flashing red. He had seen the danger coming--a woman with a rocket launcher--and known that it was already too late. There was no way that Logan could save himself--adamantium was about to be spread out all over the place.
So Xander had done what needed to be done.
Every enemy armed with a rocket launcher or grenade was instantly blipped out of existence. With one powerful tug of their threads, POOF! none of them were ever born. It was like magic, a glorious, wonderful, evil, orgasmic magic. With barely any effort at all, twenty people died, killed so thoroughly that no one would ever remember them and nothing they had ever done was real… even whatever children they had or would have had someday.
For all Xander knew, he had killed a hundred people, a thousand, a million, with one burst of power. It should have frightened him, sickened him, made him writhe in a horror of guilt. But it didn't. It just didn't seem to matter at all.
He knew he was a murderer, but as long as no one knew what he had done, it didn't seem to count against him. It was a strange and hazy kind of middle land where on one side of the divide he was covered in the blood of his victims, and on the other side he was shining with a terrifying kind of purity. He had cleansed the world of a bacterial problem. Those lives were nothing to his power.
In the moment that he had Reached with his power and snuffed out those lives, he had felt impossibly strong. But vibrating through the back of his mind a tiny voice had screamed at him to "Watch out! Consequences can be dire!" Accompanying the voice was the unexpected, upside-down image of a smooth chest covered in strange grey circles. It gave him a sense of fear and great sadness.
Xander had pulled himself back before he killed all of the enemies. He just focused on the ones that were a real danger, the ones that could actually hurt them.
Once the twenty were gone, he fell back into his usual position as third-in-command of the X-Men, which basically meant nothing. When they were in the field, Scott was in command and Xander was just a grunt, there to fight the enemies and follow orders.
With fists, claws, and plasma bursts, Xander helped to drive their enemies back, pretending that that was all he offered the fight. No one had to know what he had done. They just had to know that they had survived today, that no one had died.
Now, shining in the sunlight coming from the hole knocked through the ceiling, Scott was lit from within. To see him, it was obvious that he was the born leader of the X-Men. He was beautiful, every line of his body telling a story of compassion and strength, willing to protect everyone in his care.
Xander knew that he didn't shine nearly as bright. He loved the X-Men--they were his family--but he had more of a willingness to get his hands dirty. There wasn't anything he wouldn't do to save the people he loved, and it marked him. Scott still had the purity of high ideals; Xander didn't allow himself that luxury.
"All right guys, let's get out of here," Scott called, pulling his arm from Xander's shoulders and going off to gather up the others.
Xander sighed, already missing the human contact. He squared his shoulders and went to fulfill his own job of making sure no evidence of their presence here was left behind. He didn't feel a bit guilty for what he'd done, not at all.
"You all right, Fatey-boy?"
He turned at the call, offering Logan a small smile. He hadn't even noticed the man's approach, but it wasn't like that was something new. Logan had the walk of a cat on the hunt. "Don't call me that," Xander said, "and everything's fine, just like I told leader boy." He jerked a thumb at Scott, busy chivvying the troops. "I think I need a shower though."
Logan glanced at the blood staining Xander's now human shaped hands. His lip pulled up a little, but there was no real disgust in his eyes. His own claws had been stained with much worse in their time. "Yeah, you don't want to touch Storm with those. Cyke ought to put a shower in the Blackbird for quick cleanups."
"Hey, that's a good idea. Remind me to bring that up at the next command meeting." Xander slapped Logan on the back. "You better get out to the jet with the rest of the monkeys. I gotta do my job now."
"You really have to explain how you do that again," Logan said.
"It's easy, Wolvie," Xander said, unselfconsciously borrowing Jubilee's personal nickname for Logan. He was one of the few people Wolverine let get away with such disrespect. "I just grab the fate threads and warp reality so none of this ever happened."
"Does that mean you can bring people back to life and stuff? And for right now, won't it make it so we never won the battle?" Logan asked.
Xander shrugged. "Naw, not if I don't want it to happen that way. I can control what my power effects so that only the damage is cleared away, not us beating these guys bloody."
"That's a powerful gift," Logan said.
"Yes, and sometimes it's not a gift, but a curse, because there are some things that never should be changed, no matter how much you want to make things different. People die for a reason, and you can't bring everyone back. Consequences can be dire."
"'Consequences can be dire?'" Logan snorted. "That sounds like something from a magic eight ball."
Xander couldn't help laughing. "Yeah, probably. I don't know where I heard it, but it really stuck. Whenever I'm about to do something big, that saying pops in my head and it keeps me from being stupid. It just feels important or something."
Logan leaned closer, lowering his voice for Xander's ears alone. "You don't think Chuck might have put a little suggestion in your mind, do you? To try and keep you in line, or something?"
"I don't know." Xander shrugged. "For all I know, he might have, but it doesn't matter. It's a helpful idea that I don't want to forget. Everything I do with my powers has consequences, cause and effect and all that. A moment to pause and think about what I'm doing and what it might mean is worth the fear that Xavier's been crawling through my head a little. Just as long as he doesn't do anything more to me."
"At least I'm not the only one with the trust issues." Logan shared a wink of camaraderie with him before walking off.
Xander grinned at his back. It was good not to be so alone with his doubts. They were the only two people at the Institute that didn't trust Xavier implicitly. As though their doubts were completely unfounded… like a guy that could walk through peoples' heads with childish simplicity wasn't going to use his powers as long as he though he could get away with it without being caught.
Scott herded the others out of the building. "Have fun with the cleanup, Fate," he called with a smile, before disappearing out the door.
Xander shook his head. Sometimes Scott was a real ass, and he wasn't even really trying. He smirked a little and got down to the task at hand.
Squinting his eyes in concentration, Xander Reached out, weaving the tattered threads back into their proper order. Ruined furniture and walls wanted to be the way they had been made, and as long as he got to them soon enough after they were broken or changed--when the threads were still torn and hadn't reformed in their new shape--he could put them back the way they had been.
Within moments and with very little effort at all, the building was back the way it had been before they'd entered. All the damage had been fixed, except that the men and women that had attacked them were still lying limp on the floor, bloodied and unconscious.
Sighing, Xander rolled his head on his shoulders, listening to his neck pop and crack as the tension was relieved. He headed toward the door, shoving his hands in his pockets. With a little smile, he pursed his lips and began to whistle a jaunty tune.
All in all, everything had worked out perfectly today. After coming out to the warehouse on the false lure of a mutant sighting, they had fought off the largely unexpected ambush by an overwhelming number of nameless enemies. They had won the day, and now they were heading home and none of the X-Men had died or even received the most minor of injuries.
As he headed toward the waiting Blackbird, he was careful not to think about the twenty men and women he had killed. They didn't matter. They were the Enemy.