"I'm sorry Scott." Andrew whispered.
"What the hell was that?" Scott asked in shock.
"An alternate reality, I think. I didn't know it would be like that... I would never invade your privacy like that Scott." Andrew said in a fearful voice.
Scott focused his attention on Andrew who was visibly shaking and curling into himself.
Without a second thought Scott pulled Andrew into a hug and said quietly, "I'm not angry Andrew. Just surprised. Please don't worry about it, I'm not angry with you at all."
"Really? Thank you Scott... I just wanted to show you how I get rid of my power. I had no idea that it would be something like this. Usually it's just boring stuff that doesn't make much sense. I promise that I'll never tell anyone what I saw here." Andrew said, enjoying the comfort of Scott's arms.
"Andrew, there are some things that you should know about me... Since you saw these things, I think you should know my side of the story." Scott said and released Andrew from the hug.
"Okay." Andrew said, gathering his emotions and turning his focus on Scott.
"Not too long ago I was in love with a woman named Jean Grey. She sacrificed herself to save a group of us from certain death." Scott said quietly, retreating behind a wall of emotionlessness.
"Oh gods, no..." Andrew said, tears filling his eyes again.
"And what that Scott said about... doing something stupid... I've thought about it... a lot." Scott said, focusing his gaze on the opposite wall.
"But you seem so together. Like you've got it all figured out." Andrew said in confusion.
"I have my career figured out... and other things... but the center of my life, my best friend, my lover, is gone... and she left a hole that nothing else can fill. And every single day, I search for things to fill that hole but nothing helps... And I'm tired of trying..." Scott said with tears falling from beneath his glasses as his emotional walls began to fall.
Andrew gathered Scott into a hug, much like Scott had just done for him. "Scott, you're my friend and I'll be here for you for as long as you need me." Andrew said as he pulled Scott's head onto his shoulder.
Scott pulled back and looked into Andrew's eyes. "You're my friend too... " Scott said and became silent in contemplation.
"What is it?"
"I just realized that I've known you for less than two days and you probably know me better than most of my friends here at the mansion. I mean, I just told you things that I wouldn't even consider telling any of them." Scott said, trying to figure it out.
Andrew thought about that and reflected it on his own life. Finally he said, "The Status quo."
Scott gave him a 'what the hell are you talking about' look that was quite impressive considering that Andrew couldn't see his eyes.
"The people around you know who and what you are. They hold an image of you as you do of yourself. I'm guessing you see yourself as a self-sufficient man who needs to appear strong at all times to be seen as an effective leader." Andrew said, hoping that Scott wouldn't be offended by his observations.
"I'm guessing that Jean saw you as more than a leader. She saw you as a man. You could probably discuss anything with her, tell her your deepest most private thoughts without worrying that she might think less of you.. Am I close?" Andrew asked as he pulled Scott to him again.
"Pretty close." Scott mumbled.
"Now Jean is gone. Everyone you knew before still sees you the same way, as being self-sufficient and you have to keep up the appearance for them as much as for yourself. It's like a house of cards, your foundation has been shaken and you're afraid to change anything or the whole thing might come crashing down... so you maintain the status quo." Andrew said as he began gently stroking Scott's back, trying to give him some comfort.
"Are you saying that I'm in a rut?" Scott asked quietly, tensing a little.
"Not exactly. You know that if you asked for help, all your friends would be there to help and support you. But you need them to see you as a strong leader. You need to see yourself as a strong leader. That's just the type of support that you need from them right now." Andrew said from a place of deep thought.
"I guess I can see that." Scott said and relaxed again.
"So that left you hurt to the core and completely alone, and unable to change anything. Then I came along... I don't have any preconceived notions or expectations of you, so you could be yourself with me. And as luck would have it... I happen to think that you're a cool guy and a good friend." Andrew said with a smile.
"But it happened so fast..." Scott murmured into Andrew's shoulder.
"It may be that you're hurting and need a friend and I'm scared to be in a new place and need a friend... but I really think it's more than that... Sometimes two people just connect. I think that if we had met under different circumstances, we would still be friends... just maybe not as quickly." Andrew said with a fond smile that turned serious.
"And as your friend I'm going to say something that you probably don't want to hear." Andrew said seriously and stopped stroking Scott's back.
"Gene Gray, the one in the alternate world, was giving some good advice. If you're having those kinds of thoughts you need to get some help. I'll be here to help you and support you however I can but not if you won't help yourself." Andrew said, thinking how he should have said those words to Warren in the past. The world might be a very different place today if he had.
Scott lifted his head and looked into Andrew's eyes to see the seriousness housed within.
"Will you talk to someone?" Andrew asked hesitantly.
Scott slumped his head in acceptance and quietly said, "Yeah, the Professor."
"Good." Andrew said with a smile and pulled Scott close again.
"Would you mind coming with me? I mean, I just think it would be easier..." Scott asked, unsurely.
"I wouldn't mind at all. But you're probably going to get into some really personal stuff... are you sure you wouldn't mind?" Andrew asked with his own unsureness showing.
"After that look into my psyche, I doubt that I could tell you anything that you haven't already figured out for yourself. And besides, you just saw me naked and fully aroused, I don't see the point of trying to hide anything from you after that." Scott said with a smile into Andrew's shoulder.
"I'll make you a deal. I'll go with you when you meet with the Professor and if he says it's okay for me to be there, I'll go with you for as long as you're comfortable with it." Andrew said calmly.
Scott nodded in acceptance.
A growl from Andrew's stomach caught both Scott and Andrew's attention. A moment later an answering growl from Scott's stomach started both men laughing.
"Do you think they're trying to tell us something?" Andrew asked through his laughter.
"Yeah, and we'd better get to the dining room before it's all gone, lunch has already started." Scott said, getting up from his chair.
"Before we go... I just wanted to say that despite what we saw... thank you for sharing your power with me. I know you were scared and I'm glad you trusted me enough to show me." Scott said seriously.
"And thank you for trusting me too. I think you're the first person who ever did." Andrew said in response then headed for the door.
* * * * *
The two men enjoyed a delicious lunch of soup, sandwiches and salad. They sat alone at a table in the dining room and talked about the school curriculum and some of the students while they ate.
They had just finished and were making ready to leave when Scott stopped and tilted his head slightly, as if listening. Andrew remembered the gesture from before and knew that the Professor was talking with him telepathically.
"The Professor wants to know if you would mind a physical examination and evaluation of your powers this afternoon?" Scott asked carefully.
"Before I answer, how physical is the physical?" Andrew asked, flashing back on some horrifying moments with uncaring doctors in his past.
"Dr. McCoy uses advanced scanning devices for most of his exam. The most embarrassing thing you'll have to do is remove your shirt." Scott said with an understanding smile, having had more than one uncomfortable experience at the (cold) hands of a medical professional.
"Do you have to go to class now?" Andrew asked, promising himself that he wasn't going to ask Scott to stay with him through the exam.
"Normally yes, but Logan is going to take my classes this afternoon so I can go with you to visit Dr. McCoy and then you can go with me to talk to the Professor." Scott said as he led the way out of the dining room.
* * * * *
When they stepped off the elevator Andrew thought he'd been transported aboard a space ship. This place was incredible.
"What... what is this place?" Andrew asked.
"This is just the way to the medical facility. You saw this before when we got off the jet, don't you remember?" Scott asked, leading the way.
"No, I guess I was still too freaked by the jet and the mansion to notice this. It's so different from upstairs..." Andrew said in wonder.
"Yeah, wood and carpet make for a nice comfortable living environment, but they aren't practical for certain things like medical research and combat training. Those things are done down here." Scott said as he opened the door to the medical offices.
"You don't have to polish all this metal do you? It would take a week of cleaning." Andrew said curiously.
"No, this level of the mansion is self cleaning for the most part. As long as you pick up after yourself, the mansion's central computer will do the rest." Scott said with a smile as he led Andrew to an examination table.
"Oh, you're early. Hello Andrew, I'm Dr. Hank McCoy, you may call me Hank if you like."
Andrew shrank back in fear from the large buff man and started inching his way toward the door.
Scott noticed the 'fight or flight' response in Andrew and said, "Hank, could you give us a minute?" in a tone of voice that meant, 'leave us alone... now.'
"Of course, I'll just be in the next room when you're ready." Hank said with confusion at the boy's reaction.
"Andrew. Can you tell me what's wrong?" Scott said soothingly.
"He just scared me. He looks like all the coaches who used to scream at me and make fun of me in school... I know it's stupid to be afraid of him, but I can't help it." Andrew said with a trembling voice.
"It's not stupid, it's a survival skill... a learned response to being threatened. It was difficult for me to be comfortable with him at first too. He came here after Jean died to serve as the doctor for the school, as well as to work on his own research. Because he was replacing Jean, I automatically had a problem with him. But I've discovered that Hank is a good man and a consummate professional. Please don't think I'm trying to tell you how you should feel or anything like that. I'm just saying, Hank is new here too, give him a chance." Scott said as he laid a hand on Andrew's shoulder.
Andrew laid his hand over Scott's and gave it a squeeze. "You'll be right here with me, right? So I'll be fine. Let's just get this over with." Andrew said while pulling his courage together to face one of his leftover fears from Sunnydale.
"Okay Hank, we're ready." Scott called out to the next room.
* * * * *
The exam went without incident. Hank noticed that Scott wouldn't take more than one step away from Andrew's side at any time during the exam and that Andrew kept glancing over at Scott to make sure that he was still there.
"We're done. Aside from a slight case of malnutrition and a few scars that I would like to ask you about later, you're in perfect health." Hank said carefully. Though Andrew had calmed slightly, he still looked as if a loud noise would make him jump out of his skin.
"Herr Doktor, vas ist..." Kurt said as Andrew jumped off the table and moved to attack.
"Scott! It's a demon! Get out of here." Andrew said in a panic as he threw a punch toward Nightcrawler's jaw.
Kurt acted from instinct that had been honed in hours of training and grabbed the arm and twisted to flip Andrew, using his own momentum against him.
At Kurt's touch on his arm Andrew reflexively kicked out his feet, dropping his dead weight in front of Kurt. With a twist on the way down, he positioned himself so he landed on top of Kurt with his forearm across Kurt's neck and his knee in Kurt's belly.
"Andrew wait! This is Kurt, he's not a demon, he's a mutant like us." Scott said quickly, trying to stop the fight before it became bloody.
Andrew felt the adrenaline pumping through his veins and stopped short of punching Kurt in the face as the words registered.
"Like us? Are you sure?" Andrew asked, not loosening his grip on Kurt for an instant.
"I'm sure. Relax, Kurt isn't going to hurt you. He's here to help you learn your mutant ability." Scott said in a relaxing tone.
Andrew pulled himself up and felt foolish for attacking this demon... this man... without provocation.
Suddenly ashamed for his actions, he extended his hand to help a stunned Kurt off the floor.
"I'm sorry Kurt, please forgive me. I've been fighting demons for a while and it was kind of a reflex... but that's no excuse. Anya would be ashamed of me if she saw that." Andrew babbled to a halt.
"No harm vas done. I vill forgive zee attack if you vill show me zot move you did. It vas something else." Kurt said as he began to feel the effects of his own adrenaline.
Andrew looked into Kurt's eyes and saw that he meant what he said. "It's a deal." Andrew said and shook Kurt's hand once he was solidly back on his feet.
Andrew looked at Kurt strangely for a moment and muttered, "Rafael."
"Vat?" Kurt asked in confusion.
"This symbol, it's Rafael. And here is Uriel. And over here, this combination of angelic symbols forms a blessing. 'To plea... beg. To beg for forgiveness for the sins of my life." Andrew said as he moved from side to side to examine the scarification on Kurt's skin.
"You are correct. Most people do not know the ancient symbols. Unt I haf met no one who could translate them before." Kurt said, his esteem for Andrew going up yet another notch.
"Yeah, well I've learned a few ancient languages over the years. Aramaic, Gaelic, Ancient Greek, plus a few demon languages." Andrew said offhandedly as he continued to examine Kurts scars.
"Demon languages?" Hank asked, intrigued.
"Sure, Fyrial, Turak' han, Ottoman and Roman Z'nor, and I know a little Thoth..." Andrew said before noticing the stares from all those gathered in the room.
"How did you come to learn such things?" Hank asked with great interest.
"I used to practice magic... black magic... and the spells that I used were written in the ancient languages..." Andrew trailed off as he saw the disbelief in their eyes.
The silence was thick and oppressive. They apparently thought him to be insane or a liar. Well, proof was no problem.
"Creo Ignem." Andrew said as he made a complicated gesture.
A melon sized ball of fire formed above his hand and hovered. "See?"
Hank snapped out of his shock after a moment and ran to get a scanning device.
After a few minutes of Hank scanning him, Andrew asked, "Are you about done? My arm is getting tired."
"Oh, yes. That is sufficient. But would you mind if I asked you to do that again later?" Hank asked as he started fiddling with his scanning device.
"I won't mind." Andrew said as he made a gesture and dissipated the fireball.
"You said you've been fighting demons. How did you come in contact with them? I mean I honestly thought they were a myth." Scott asked, stunned at the myriad of talents his friend possessed.
"I'm not very good at fighting. Buffy and the others are the real demon fighters. I learned some moves to defend myself so I could help when we closed the hellmouth in Sunnydale." Andrew said as he moved to sit back on the bed.
"Vas ist ein 'hellmouth'?" Kurt asked in wonder.
"It's a portal to a hell dimension. If it were opened, demons could flood the earth. Sunnydale had a hellmouth and we closed it... day before yesterday? It feels like it was weeks ago with all that's happened." Andrew said in his own wonder.
"Where is Sunnydale?" Scott asked.
"In California, about two hours from Los Angeles." Andrew answered.
"Is that where you're from?" Hank asked as he pulled up chairs for everyone.
"Yeah, I lived there all my life until we closed the hellmouth and blew up most of the town... you must have heard about that?" Andrew asked, getting a sinking feeling.
"No I haven't. I like to keep abreast of current events and I am sure that I would have heard about something like that." Hank said.
"Something's wrong." Andrew said as he put the pieces together.
"What do you mean?" Scott asked, worried by the tone in Andrew's voice.
"I need to check something on the Internet, is there somewhere I can do that?" Andrew asked seriously..
"In my office, through that door. What do you need to check?" Hank asked, also beginning to worry.
"I'll tell you everything when I know for sure." Andrew said as he walked into Hank's office, followed by the others.
* * * * *
"Shit." Andrew muttered as he turned away from the computer.
"What's going on?" Scott asked with a feeling of dread.
"Things weren't adding up. I mean you not knowing about demons. Me not knowing about mutants. The explosion in Sunnydale should have made national news, and you hadn't heard about it..." Andrew stopped to draw in a shaky breath.
"What is it?" Scott asked, beginning to suspect.
"That portal I made, the one big enough for our bus to fit through... I think it did fit through it. I checked out some things. There is no town or city named Sunnydale in the state of California. My email account doesn't exist. I looked at the news sites and it isn't the same news as it was before... This isn't my world." Andrew finished in a small defeated voice.
Scott took a moment to process that when he barely heard Andrew whisper, "I thought I found a place where I belonged... but I'm not supposed to be here."
Scott saw Andrew sinking into the depths of his own despair and decided to take action. He grabbed Andrew by the shoulders and asked, "Says who? I mean yeah, you didn't start here but you have the ability to open a dimensional vortex, so who's to say you aren't supposed to be right here, right now."
Andrew perked up a little then and looked at the faces of the men around him. "Really?"
"Scott is quite right. If there are forces guiding our actions on predetermined pathways then you are no doubt where you need to be... and if you subscribe to the more chaotic view of things as I do. You can boil this situation down to two words..." Hank said with certainty.
"Fuck it?" Andrew asked with a mischievous smile.
"Shit happens." Hank replied with his own smile.
"So what do I do now?" Andrew asked the group in general.
"We gauge your powers with Hank and Kurt. Then you go with me to meet with the Professor." Scott said simply.
"But... but... I'm from an alternate dimension." Andrew stammered.
"And how does that change anything?" Scott asked seriously.
Andrew stopped and thought. When Scott and the others had found him in Phoenix, he had no one and nothing. He was starting fresh with a new life. So instead of starting in a new state, he would start in a new world... "It doesn't."