Didn't we do this already?
“Well, that was quick,” said Xander as the dust began to settle. It was an important lesson, when facing someone that could control metal hand grenades were a fashion don’t.
Okay so he was quipping, he did that when he was nervous. The thing was Xander wasn’t nervous for the reasons most people would think. Sure he was in a life or death situation, but that was nothing new to him. No what had him nervous was the large surge of power he had felt, quickly followed by an ominous rumble.
In Xanders opinion they never should have left Jean on her own to deal with the guy who was shooting lasers out of his eyes. Granted she seemed like she could probably take the guy, and Magneto had mentioned something about a lovers quarrel, but now Xander was left with the disturbing feeling that he had missed something really important.
Just as he was about to voice his opinions on the matter his head burst into blinding pain. It was so sudden and so intense that he was quickly sprawled out on the floor, just barley able to register that Mystique was in the same position.
After a fraction of a second more of pain though, Xander once again felt the two spirits snap back into his mind. This time though he got two mental images to go with their return, one of an attractive Asian woman cut and bleeding on the ground, and another of Sarah with a group of kids in some tunnel.
With his roommates back in his head Xander’s headache went from where his brain was attempting to escape his skull to something a couple of over the counter pain killers could take care of.
In one of those moments that seem to last forever Xander watched the man known as Magneto strain against an invisible force. It was an ancient battle; the will of a man verses the quality of a machine, the fight only ending when one of them was no longer working. The end was inevitable when you thought of it that way, because while Erik Lehnsherr had learned many things in his long life, how to give up was not one of them.
“Better than aspirin,” commented Xander as his headache completely left.
“Glad to be of service,” said Magneto as he opened the doors to reveal two men in wheelchairs. One was bald and well dressed, while the other was younger with a tube coming out of the back of his neck.
“Okay, so I’m guessing that we kill the guy with the tube attached to the back of his neck,” said Xander as he followed Magneto onto the catwalk.
“Neither,” said the old man. “I’ve given our discussion some thought and have come to the conclusion that you were right. If humans and mutants ever engaged in open warfare it would severely damage the world, perhaps beyond repair, so there will be no war.”
“That’s nice, but seriously we should probably kill this guy so nothing like this happens again,” said Xander.
“In an hour there will be no need. I simply said there would be no war, not that humanity would continue to go on living,” said Magneto as he rose up into the air and began to move panels around.
“Oh, okay,” muttered Xander as he instantly aimed and fired at the younger of the two wheelchair bound men.
It only came as a mild shock when the bullet stopped inches from the mans head, when you were around someone who could control metals to the extent of Magneto one tends to expect things like this.
No the big shock came half a second later when Xander found that he couldn’t summon either Fido or Soldier Boy. Having something that shot non-metallic bullets was going to be the only real ace Xander had to play if things began to turn the way that they had.
A fraction of a second after he had failed to summon his spiritual protectors Xander found himself flying through the air, the assault rifle that he had been carrying wrapping it’s self around his body.
Both Magneto and Mystique ignored Xander’s shouts and taunts as the teen hung helplessly against a wall in the hall. It figured that when he needed his guardians the most they, or perhaps it was Xander, were too worn out to manifest physically.
Once the two adult mutants had finished doing what ever needed to be done to make sure that humans would be killed now instead of mutants they calmly but quickly walked out of the room, Magneto sealing the door behind him.
“I only have one question for you, why?” asked the elderly man as he stopped in
front of Xander.
“Two answers,” said Xander. “First there are more humans than mutants in the world; this means that the third party I talked about will still overwhelm the survivors. So congratulations, you’re responsible for the death of two species instead of just one.
“The second reason is a lot simpler, my best friends aren’t mutants. If they die, and somehow you actually win the war that’s coming I’m going to kill you, even if I have to come back from the dead to do it.”
“Death is nothing special, it comes to everyone, the only thing that matters is what you do while you are still alive,” responded Magneto as he turned and began to walk away. “Despite what you or even history may think of me I honestly believe that the actions of my life will save mutants from extermination.”
With those parting words they were gone, leaving Xander to deal with this new situation on his own.
“Okay Harris, you have a rifle wrapped around your body, you’re stuck to a wall, and if you don’t get free soon all of your friends will die,” muttered Xander as he tried to work out the situation. “Okay, what would Buffy do in this situation? Well she would probably use her magical slayer strength to break the rifle, open the door, and stab the evil mind controller with Mr. Pointy. And that didn’t help me out at all.”
It was at that moment that Xander heard footsteps coming down the hall, footsteps that the young man figured belonged to a group of mutants, hopefully ones that wouldn’t try and kill him.
Two seconds later it was still debatable if the group meant him harm or not. Well maybe not intentional harm, but a young girl with bone spikes randomly erupting from her skin trying to graft herself to his leg was not a pleasant experience.
“Hey Sarah, it’s nice to see you too, but could you please back off until I’m free?” asked Xander.
She did so, and Xander was soon set free by a man that shot red beams of energy out of a visor, a man that had shot those beams of energy at Xander’s head not more than ten minutes ago. The young Sunnydale native was once again grateful that he hadn’t shot the man, and not just because it would have pissed off the incredibly powerful red head.
“Okay here’s what I think is happening, Magneto did something to that machine,” Xander started to say before he was interrupted.
“Now it’s targeting humans instead of mutants. It wouldn’t be hard to figure out even if I hadn’t felt the change,” finished Jean.
“Okay so you know the problem, the question is do you know the solution?”
“Kurt,” said Storm as she turned towards the demonic looking mutant.
“I can not,” said Kurt. “I told you, I need to see where it is that I am going.”
“Then we’re both going to need a bit of faith,” replied the black mutant.
To Xander’s amazement this seemed to be enough for Kurt because he embraced Storm, muttered something that sounded like a prayer, and vanished. The odor of brimstone that filled the room that wafted from the spot the two people had occupied didn’t help rid Xander of the demonic impression he got every time he saw Kurt though.
“Anyone have a backup plan in case they fail?” asked Xander after a few tense moments of silence.
“They won’t fail,” said Jean in a firm tone.
“Well you know them better than I do, but if you don’t mind I’d at least like to know where the explosives are stored.”
“Storm won’t fail,” said the man that Jean was leaning on.
“Yeah, I don’t even know you. What’s your name anyway?” asked Xander.
“Cyclops,” replied the man.
“Man, why can’t anyone use their real name?”
“Because places like this are probably monitored and we don’t want to give them any clues that would lead them to our front door,” said Cyclops in a serious voice.
“Huh, that actually sounds smart. I guess you can call me Morpheus until this is over then,” said Xander. He may not like the idea of using any other name than Xander but the man made a good point, and it felt different giving himself a name than it did when Weapon X had given him one. Of course because he took a step forward the universe once again decided to slap him down, this time by making the entire room they were standing in shake.
“I think that we should move, as in right now,” the young Sunnydale native said as he nervously looked around.
“Not yet,” said Jean.
Xander quickly glanced at Sarah as she desperately clung to his hand and said, “Five minutes, then we’re leaving.”
“Fair enough,” said Cyclops right before Kurt teleported back, holding Storm before instantly disappearing again.
In less time than it took Xander to blink the demonic looking mutant had returned. This time carrying the bald man that was, presumably, Professor Xavier.
“Okay now that everyone is here I think it’s time to put plan B into action, or as I like to call it operation run like hell so we don’t die,” said Xander once Storm and Kurt had the professor secured between them.
“Sounds good to me,” said Storm as the group began to move down the corridor at a speed that was quite astonishing, considering that they were transporting an apparently crippled man without the use of a wheel chair. Adrenal glands were truly wonderful things to have, especially in fight then flight situations such as these.
The first thoughts Xander had when the doors to the spillway began to close was that they hadn’t been fast enough, and that they had been too lucky so far. Not once had they encountered a living human that had tried to stop them. Xander had simply chalked it up to a case of rats abandoning a sinking ship, but apparently he had been wrong.
Well, those where his first thoughts anyway. His second thoughts were drastically different because it incorporated the water spraying at a high pressure from the seals of the floodgate door. Now his thoughts were along the lines that being on the other end of the door would be a bad thing, unless his mutation meant that he could instantly grow some gills so he could breathe under water.
Actually, considering his swim team experience, it wasn’t completely out of the realm of possibility that he could grow gills if he tried. That didn’t mean that he wanted to test that particular theory at the moment, or at any time in the future for that matter.
Okay so now they were following Logan towards a helicopter that he had found, but something was wrong. No, not wrong, more like he was forgetting something, something that he could remember if he could only stop running and think for a second.
Too bad Buffy and Willow weren’t here; it was always easier to think when he was quipping with someone. John had been a good substitute, but the young mutant didn’t have the years of experience with Xander that the two supernaturally empowered women did.
Wait a second, John.
“Hey has anyone thought to tell the people in the jet that the dam is about to break, and that we’re gong to need them at wherever the helicopter is?” asked Xander as they broke into the open air.
“Kid has a point, the ‘copter should be able to take most of us, but it’ll be iffy if we try and fit everyone inside.”
“And then there is the option of no helicopter,” said Xander as they came into a clearing, no helicopter in sight.
“I don’t get it, it was right here!” shouted Logan as he looked around the area.
“Okay, once again saying that it would be a good idea to tell the people in the jet where we are.”
“They’ve already found us,” said Jean with half a smile playing on her lips, as a barely audible wine began to fill the air.
The sight of the jet flying over the tree line was a bit of a surprise to say the least. The landing that took place soon afterward could use a bit of work, but considering who was left to fly anything short of completely destroying the plane was to be considered of the good.
Xander for one didn’t waste too much time gawking, he simply picked up Sarah and ran for the only chance of life either of them had at the moment.
“Hey John, sorry but there are no soldiers for you to kill, maybe next time,” said Xander as soon as he saw the young blond man.
“As long as Marie doesn’t fly ever again, I can live with there not being a next time,” said John as he helped the younger mutants onto the jet.
“Yeah because I’m sure that flying a jet was allll her idea,” said Xander with a smirk.
“Hey I just wanted them to stop taking orders from everyone, not commit suicide,” the fire manipulator said as Logan came in carrying the last abducted child.
“Aren’t we going to destroy the base this time too?” asked Sarah from where Xander had strapped her into one of the seats.
“The alarms you heard were saying that it’s about to be destroyed, but if you really want I’m sure John will burn the place down just like what we did last time,” said Xander.
“Really?” asked Sarah in a hopeful voice.
“Sure thing kid, always wanted to add arson to my record,” said John.
“Good, they were bad people,” said the barely pubescent girl in a tone that indicated that she would have no problems with the people who ran that place experiencing the worst tortures known to man.
No girl her age should be capable of a tone like that, and not for the first time this summer Xander was happy that he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that hell existed. Whatever awaited these people after they died would no doubt be extremely unpleasant, and as far as Xander was concerned they deserved every second of it.
“Has anyone noticed that we aren’t taking off yet?” asked an Asian girl that Xander didn’t know.
“Hey Jean, is something wrong?” Xander asked the woman as she was walking down the isle and towards the opening ladder.
“No, everything’s okay,” said the older woman, and Xander could once again feel the power building within her.
“If you say so,” said Xander as he watched her get out of the plane. If there was one thing he had learned on the Hellmouth it was not to argue with hot, powerful women unless they were about to do something truly stupid.
Well, that was his normal policy anyway, one he didn’t enforce in this situation. He knew, or at least had a strong idea, what Jean was going to do but did nothing to stop her. Maybe because there was nothing he could have done to stop her if the efforts of Kurt and Cyclops were any indication of what Jean was willing to do to enforce her will.
Xander for one wasn’t going to be one to belittle her choice. Because of her actions the oncoming water had parted as if she had the power of God behind her, leaving the people on the jet untouched. She’s the one who got the plane working, and flying again, putting Sarah and himself out of harms way.
Xander didn’t see for himself when Jean allowed the water to take her, only knowing that it happened by the cry of anguish Cyclops gave.
He would always remember Jean Grey, but despite how he may feel about her sacrifice Xander’s body was telling him that he had pushed it too far over these last few days and demanded he sleep. Not seeing any dangers around to fight, Xander eventually, if reluctantly, gave in to those demands.
And while he slept he dreamed about an eternal flame that could never be extinguished. The darkness kept trying to destroy the flame, but only succeeded in burying it deep beneath the surface where no one could find it. It still burned though, waiting for the day it would be set free, for the day it could fly again.
Then the jet hit some turbulence, waking Xander up just enough for him to switch to the more pleasant dream involving Buffy, Cordelia, and a few of his favorite models from Sports Illustrated playing bikini volleyball. The only disturbing, or surreal, part about this dream was that both SB and Fido were there in bikinis as well.
“So how was the White House tour?” Xander asked John as he came into the common room of the mansion.
“Not bad, you should have come,” answered one of the three newest X-Men.
“Couldn’t, had to find out about my car,” said Xander. He had lost his wallet and ID some time when he was being chased by the Weapon X goons so his car, and what he had in his car were the only things that could possibly link Xander Harris to Ash. Okay so it wasn’t likely that the government would come looking for him, but if there was one thing this little adventure had taught him was that you shouldn’t take chances with government agencies that you thought you had beat.
“So what’s the verdict?”
“D.O.A. Apparently one of the customers, probably Ted, didn’t like my last day of work so he threw a bunch of Molotov cocktails at my car. According to Dave, my most recent boss, there’s nothing left except a burn out husk. Dave thought I was dead or running so after a month he sold what was left to the scrap yard for fifty bucks.”
“Does that mean you’re going to stick around here until you earn enough cash to head back?”
“Much as I’d like that I need to get home as quick as I can. The school year is about to start, and with school comes all the death and mayhem that my town is known and loved for. The Professor paid for a plane ticket, plus a bit extra for cab fair. Now all I need to do is come up with a story about why I’m coming home without a car and I’m good.”
“What about your nightmares?”
“Gone for good according to Xavier. According to him now that I can let out my two friends any time I want I shouldn’t have bad dreams involving them any more.”
“I guess that this is the part where you say if I’m ever in your area to come and visit right?”
“Yeah, just call me first okay? There are some things about Sunnydale that you should know before you visit,” said Xander as a cab pulled into the driveway. “Looks like my ride is here just do me one favor and try not to burn down the school.”
“I’ll try, but I don’t make any promises. If my rep begins to suffer too badly I may have to resort to drastic measures to bring it back up.”
“Just remember to bring enough marshmallows to share with everyone,” said Xander as he started to head out the door.
John had been his last goodbye, having already talked to his road trip gang while the X-Men were off intimidating the President. That meant within twenty four hours he would be back to just worrying about vampires, demons, and the occasional end of the world situation.
Whatever, as long as he had his friends and there weren’t any secret anti-mutant government agencies he could deal. After what he had survived the past couple months he could probably deal with anything.
Xander wasn’t stupid enough to say these words out loud though. Maybe it was an effect that was only located on or around the Hellmouth, but why tempt fate?