//Professor, as team leader it was my decision to make and I'll stand by it. Andrew is on the team. He is smart, he already has reasonable control over his ability, and what I've seen of his fighting skills leads me to believe that he will be an asset to the team.// Scott thought to the Professor.
//Please allow me to disagree with you before you defend your actions. And I happen to agree completely, I am just concerned by his lack of training.// The Professor responded.
//Granted that if we had the convenience of more time, training would be a priority but we have no time... absolutely none. In less than three hours we will have to face them, and probably do battle with them to keep Andrew here. I don't think they will accept his offer to send them back home unless they get to torture him afterward.// Scott thought with venom.
//Mobilize the X-men and those of the senior students who demonstrated that they were capable in a crisis in the raid. I will leave the planning in your hands and whatever decisions you make, I will be behind you... but when it comes time to fight... I will be beside you.// the Professor sent with strength.
* * * * *
"Andrew, we need to go down to the launch bay. I have a surprise for you." Scott said as he knocked on the door of Andrew's room.
"Come in." Andrew said.
Scott walked through the doorway and stopped, stunned. They were standing in the launch bay.
"How?" Scott asked before he could think better of it.
"I just put my portal in the doorway." Andrew said with a shrug.
"But it wasn't swirling or anything." Scott said with confusion.
"I figured out how to make it invisible. It's still the same thing I was doing before, I'm just tweaking it a little." Andrew said with a smile at the look of approval from Scott.
"This is what I wanted you to come down here for." Scott said, pointing to some black leather uniforms.
"Uniforms? You said 'the X-men' earlier, you really are a team aren't you?" Andrew asked in wonder.
"Yes WE are. What shoe size are you?"
"Eleven." Andrew answered in confusion.
"These should be about right." Scott said and handed Andrew a uniform.
"And you said that you have a mutant ability... eye blasts?" Andrew questioned.
"Yes, and I wear this visor to control the blasts, that's where I get the code-name Cyclops." Scott said, modeling the visor.
"Okay, what is everyone else's names?" Andrew asked with excitement.
"I'll tell you while we change, the locker room is through here." Scott said and led the way.
"Orroro can control the weather and her code-name is Storm. Logan has metal claws that come out of his hands, he is called Wolverine. Kurt is called Nightcrawler." Scott said as he was stripping out of his clothes.
Andrew realized that he was staring at Scott getting undressed and shook himself back to the job at hand. "Go on." he said as he began to undress.
"We are going to bring a few of the students who are level headed in a crisis. Bobby can control water and ice. Marie can absorb thoughts and abilities... Let me help you with the jacket, the leather can get a little stiff when it hasn't been worn for a while." Scott said and helped Andrew into his black leather jacket.
"Thanks" Andrew said and sat down to pull on his boots.
"Kitty can phase through solid matter. Piotr can cover his body with armor and is unnaturally strong."
Scott pulled on his own boots, then he rose and said, "Stand up, let's have a look." With a shock he realized once again that Andrew wasn't a boy. Andrew was a man, his own age and looked slim but surprisingly muscular when he wasn't hidden behind baggy clothes.
"Is it okay?" Andrew asked trying to look at himself.
"Yeah, a perfect fit. The Professor is going to call the others, we need to go to the dining room and start planning how we want to do this..." Scott said as he walked out of the locker room and gathered a stack of uniforms.
"Let's take the short cut." Andrew said with a smile.
"After you." Cyclops said and followed Andrew through the hanger doorway that now opened into the dining room.
* * * * *
They entered the dining room to find Storm, Wolverine, and the Professor dressed in uniforms. A moment later Bobby, Marie, Kurt, Piotr, and Kitty entered the room.
"Students, those of you who are here proved to be able to handle yourselves in a crisis. If you accept this position, you will be X-men. You will be expected to perform your duties as X-men and students, allowances will be made in your training schedule for your school schedule. By accepting this uniform, you are accepting a great burden of responsibility." The Professor said seriously to the teenagers.
"Iceman?" Scott asked, looking at Bobby and holding up a uniform.
Bobby took the uniform and smiled.
"Rogue." Scott said next, to a surprised Marie.
"You sure?" She asked, wide eyed.
Scott just nodded in response as she took the uniform.
"Shadowcat?" Scott said and Kitty squealed and bounced up to Scott to take the uniform from him.
"Nightcrawler... we made some adjustments to the standard uniform. We'll adapt it if it doesn't fit." Scott said, handing Kurt his uniform.
"I have always had a problem buying off the rack. We will make it work." Kurt said and moved away.
"Colossus." Scott said and handed Piotr his uniform. Piotr just nodded his head and looked as if he were going to cry.
Scott then stood back and looked at his complete team.
"Andrew, I know Scott already declared that you are part of the team. But I just have to hear it from you, to be sure in my own mind, do you want to be one of us?" The Professor asked seriously.
"I thought I wanted to stay at the school last night. I was sure this morning. But this afternoon, Scott showed me that it's more than that, I belong here. You took me in and accepted me and made me one of you before I knew what happened. So... do I want to join you? Yes. More than anything I've wanted in my life." Andrew said honestly.
"X-men, may I introduce our newest member, Portal." Scott said with a great smile.
* * * * *
Andrew spent more than half an hour telling about what abilities the slayers and the scoobies had.
He told about the way they used to be and how things seemed to go bad when Willow's lover was killed. He spoke of specific instances when Buffy would ridicule him in front of everyone and when Xander acted like his friend, only to find out that he was laughing at him behind his back. And when Willow would bully or threaten him with her magic. He told about how Dawn and the potential slayers had started as sweet frightened girls and turned into hard, mean fighters without compassion or pity.
By the end of it every X-man there was ready to kick some slayer ass.
"So are we ready to do this thing?" Wolverine asked impatiently.
"Yeah, Portal are you sure you're up to all these jumps?" Cyclops asked with concern.
"No sweat. I just piggy-backed on the trace of the vortex I created three hours ago." Portal said with a smile at Cyclops.
"Good, get team two in position then join team one." Cyclops said and walked through the swirling vortex.
"Team two, right this way." Portal said and created another vortex on the opposite wall.
* * * * *
"Andrew, it's eight o'clock, are you in there?" Buffy screamed as she pounded on the motel room door.
"Come in." Andrew said with a neutral tone.
Buffy walked into the room and was stunned to see four men waiting for her. One of them was Andrew, but not looking at all like Andrew. The second was in a wheelchair, the third had on some kind of funny glasses, and the last one just looked... mean.
"What's going on here. Who are your friends?" Buffy said with a sneer.
Wolverine and Cyclops both made a move to shut her up but Andrew raised a hand and said, "Doesn't matter. Do you still want to go home?"
"Yeah. Come on and make with the mojo so we can get you fixed." Buffy said with a smirk.
"I won't be going with you, but I will be glad to send you back." Andrew said pleasantly.
"Stop playing games Andrew. Let's go." Buffy said and made a motion to the bus.
A moment later Willow made her way to the room. "What's taking so long?"
//They're all blocked from me.// Professor X sent to the X-men in the room, except Portal.
"I just told Buffy that I would send you all back, but I won't be going with you." Portal said, sounding a little less confident.
"Oh, you'll be coming back with us." Willow said and began to chant as her eyes turned black.
//Now.// The Professor sent and several things happened simultaneously.
Wolverine grabbed hold of Buffy and pulled her through what appeared to be a solid wall.
Rogue stepped from behind the door and laid her hand on Willow's neck.
At Rogue's movement, Portal created a vortex just above the bus then quickly brought it down to the ground. In the blink of an eye, the bus vanished from where it had been.
Anyone who had been passing by and noticed the bus vanishing suddenly wondered, "What was I just thinking?" and went about their business.
When Willow was finally unconscious Cyclops carried Willow through the wall as Portal and Rogue followed.
Once Professor X emerged from the vortex, Portal closed it and took the power back into himself. Moving the bus had drained him so the returning power was a relief. They were standing in the middle of the desert, miles from anyone.
Everyone who was able to fight got off the bus and formed into a line opposite the line of X-men.
"What the hell are you supposed to be?" Faith said with a laugh.
Portal looked at the slayers ready to fight and felt that something was wrong.
A muffled scream erupted into a full blown scream as Buffy broke free from Wolverine.
Portal blinked, astonished as he realized what was wrong and said, "Rogue, what did she do to them? And how do we undo it?"
Rogue was struggling with the malignant darkness coursing through her mind and fought to answer. "Warped... minds... evil... spreads like... cancer." Rogue said before tilting her head back and screaming.
Portal's mind raced. If she had planted evil in each of them then it would grow over time. Every improper thought and misdeed would bring pleasure and help the spread of the evil until it drove each of them to complete madness.
But how to stop it?
* * * * *
"If they want a fight, they'll get a fight." Buffy snarled and raised her hand. From behind her Dawn threw the Scythe of the Slayers and she caught it without looking.
"Dibbs on the reaper." Wolverine called and moved toward Buffy.
"One-eye is mine." Called Cyclops moving toward Xander.
"The pretty one for me." Colossus called and went toward Faith.
On down the line, the X-men and slayers paired off to fight. Portal stood thinking that there had to be a way to end Willow's spell.
"Nightcrawler!" Portal called out with excitement as he was struck with inspiration.
* * * * *
Buffy swung her scythe down to deliver a blow to her opponent's neck and it was stopped.
She stood stunned at the sight of metal claws coming out of the man's hands.
He knocked her scythe away and delivered a hard kick to her stomach.
She automatically doubled over from the kick, then an instant later stood up with an uppercut to Logan's jaw, catching him by surprise.
* * * * *
"Show me what you got, Freak!" Xander said from a crouched position, holding his favorite battle-axe.
Cyclops let loose an optic blast but Xander easily dodged it and swung his axe. He came within inches of making Cyclops' internal organs external.
"The rest of them are bad but you're the worst, you pretended to be Andrew's friend then laughed at him behind his back... and then to his face." Cyclops said in disgust and let loose another optic blast at Xander.
Xander could feel the heat from the blast and smell burnt hair. He realized that fighting this guy might not be as easy as he first thought.
* * * * *
Colossus stood there as Faith pounded on him repeatedly. He watched her punch, jab, and kick at him. Finally when her movements were becoming sluggish, he punched her one time. Square on the jaw. Knocking her out stone cold.
* * * * *
Shadowcat saw the girl her own age coming at her with a sword in her hands and madness in her eyes.
"Hey, can't we talk about this?" Shadowcat said as Dawn closed the distance between them.
Shadowcat became insubstantial as the sword passed through her. Dawn stood in shock as Shadowcat walked right through her.
While Dawn was looking down at herself Shadowcat picked up a rock and knocked her on the head.
* * * * *
"Yah?" Nightcrawler asked as he appeared before Portal.
"I just realized that if you know the ancient angelic symbols, then you must have read the ancient accounts of the overthrow of the first evil."
"Yah, but of course." Nightcrawler responded, not knowing what this had to do with anything.
"Did they say anything about those that were touched by darkness, how they could be saved from it?" Portal asked frantically.
"Zey must be touched by heaven's light to cleanse the evil from their souls." Nightcrawler said from a place of memory.
"Heaven's light? Lightning?" Portal asked with excitement.
"Yah, I suppose it could be." Nightcrawler said, thinking about it.
"I've got to talk to the Professor now, thanks." Portal said and walked through a doorway that couldn't be seen.
* * * * *
"Professor, I think I've got a way to restore them back to themselves."
"What would this cure entail?" The Professor asked casually.
"They need to be hit by lightning. It will kill the thing inside them that is causing them to act this way." Portal said with imploring eyes.
"Or it might end up killing them." the Professor said reasonably.
"Or WE might end up killing them." Portal said in response.
After a moment of silence and a look of concentration from the Professor, he said, "I'll talk to Storm, if she can manage a non-lethal dose of lightning, we'll try it."
"Try it on me first." Portal said with certainty.
"But you aren't twisted like them."
"But I've got it in me, same as them... right?" Portal asked bravely.
"Yes Andrew, that is why you are immune to telepathy." The Professor said carefully.
"And in time I'll become like them. Twisted, mean, violent... and I'll end up as an insane beast." Andrew said with fear in his voice.
"But you aren't effected by their madness."
"I can't be sure of that, it may already be effecting my mind, and I'll never be sure unless I do this. Besides, this way you have the possibility of curing your enemies rather than killing them. Look at them Professor, they want to fight to the death for no reason, and I bet if you look on the bus you'll find that Rona is fully insane by now." Portal said and the Professor knew that he couldn't deny him what might be his sanity.
"I'll talk to Storm, if she agrees, you will be our test subject to see if the treatment works." The Professor said, resigned.
* * * * *
//You want me to what!?// Storm asked in shock.
//A non-lethal dose of lightning to cleanse the parasite that was introduced into his mind. If it works, we will do it on the others and restore them to the good people that they were before.// The Professor asked in a tone of pleading.
//You believe him then?// Storm asked as she was still deciding.
//Now that I know what to look for, I can see it for myself. Andrew doesn't provide a fertile ground for it to grow, so it isn't effecting his actions much, if at all. But this thing will take hold and spread given enough time. It is disgusting and malignant, warping and twisting the mind until it causes a state of complete madness.// The Professor thought, as he sent her images of what he had seen.
//Of course I'll do it Charles. Death would be a mercy if the remaining life offered nothing but that.// Storm thought in sadness.
"Storm will do it, you should move to open ground." The Professor said and watched Portal walk away.
"Good Luck." the Professor said in a whisper.
* * * * *
Portal stood, awaiting his fate. He was to be hit by lightening that would cleanse or kill him. But either way, he would meet it standing tall.
He thought about his team, his friends, the X-men and how any one of them would do the same thing he was doing, and how any one of them would take his place right now if they could.
Storm walked up to Andrew with tears in her eyes, she put a hand on his shoulder and asked, "Are you sure?"
"Heavens light will cleanse me or kill me. Yeah. I am sure. Thank you for doing this Orroro, I know it's hurting you to do this for me." Portal said in a strong voice then turned his gaze forward, toward the battle.
"May God watch over you, my friend." Orroro said as she walked away and focused her power.
* * * * *
Wolverine and Buffy's fight had become little more than a dance. Her attacks against him did little damage and only served to increase his anger toward her. The Professor had declared that the X-men should not use any lethal attacks, so his attacks against her were only serving to do the same.
"Come on and fight me!" Buffy screamed in rage.
Wolverine could see the madness dancing in her eyes and knew that this type of bloodlust could only end in one of them being dead... and it wouldn't be him.
A crack of lightning could be heard behind him. He reacted immediately. As she launched a punch toward his jaw, he grabbed her arm, twisted and brought it up behind her. In one quick move he pulled her into a 'sleeper' hold and waited for her to fall into unconsciousness.
"About time." He muttered as she finally went limp in his hold.
* * * * *
Piotr had tied Faith up to keep her from hurting anyone else when she awoke.
When she finally opened her eyes, she had a bewildered look.
"Are you better now?" Piotr asked with concern.
"Why do you care?" Faith asked, truly puzzled.
"I care because I didn't want to injure you. There is no reason for us to be fighting. We only wish to help and protect Andrew." Piotr said quietly.
There was a crash not too far away and Faith said, "I don't think that's a problem now. He was just struck by lightning."
Piotr looked over to see Andrew's smoldering body laying motionless on the ground.
"I don't know how it came to this... why are we acting this way? And now Andrew is..." Faith said as tears welled up in her eyes.
Piotr took her bound hands into his and said, "I do not know why, but if you can ask the question, then I think it is not too late."
Faith looked at Piotr seriously and nodded her head in acceptance of his statement.
"Can you untie me now?" Faith asked politely.
"I may be strong as an ox, but I am smarter than one." Piotr said with a smile as he released her hands from his.
Faith gave a little shrug and said, "It was worth a try."
Piotr and Faith watched the battle continue.
* * * * *
Cyclops was fighting Xander and becoming extremely frustrated. This man was a capable fighter and probably the most annoying person that Scott had ever met.
"Why don't you have a real weapon?" Xander taunted as he tried to get another of his axe blows to connect.
"I don't need one with you. You fight like a girl." Scott said, trying to throw Xander off balance by sending an optic blast directly into his path.
"If you knew the girls that I do, you'd take that as a compliment." Xander said with a laugh as he dodged the blast and caught a glancing blow on Scott's thigh with the axe.
Scott glanced over his shoulder to see Andrew fall to the ground. A wave of panic washed over him. He turned back to see Xander getting back into his crouched fighting stance.
[Screw this!] Scott thought to himself and let loose an optic blast that hit Xander full in the chest and knocked him back fifteen feet into the side of the bus.
Before Xander's body could even hit the ground, Scott was running toward the motionless body of Andrew.
* * * * *
Andrew woke up to slaps on his face. He slowly opened his eyes and looked up into the tear-stained face of Cyclops.
"Thank God! Andrew, how do you feel?" Scott asked frantically.
"I... I just got hit by lightning. How do you think I feel?" Andrew said with a graveley voice and a pained smile.
"Enlightened?" Scott said with a serious face that finally broke into a smile.
"Cold." Andrew muttered as he went pale and began to shake.
Cyclops laid down beside him and held him close. He whispered in a comforting tone. "What you're feeling is shock, you're body's natural reaction to what just happened. Just hang on and it will pass. Stay with me. Can you hear me?"
"Yeah. I'll be fine. Scary." Andrew said through chattering teeth.
"Did it work?" Scott asked hoping to divert Andrew's attention.
"I don't know. Everything feels weird so I can't tell. Ask the Professor to try to use telepathy on me. That should tell us for sure." Andrew said hoarsely.
//Andrew, how are you feeling?// The Professor sent with worry.
//Cold, shock... but I'm getting better. Since I can hear you does this mean the lightning cleaned me out?// Andrew asked with hope.
//Yes, I can find no traces of the malignant power in your mind.// The Professor said happily.
//Then I guess it's time we started zapping some slayers, huh?// Andrew thought with glee as he tried to get into a sitting position. Immediately Cyclops moved to support him.
//Are you glad to be able to help them?// the Professor asked curiously.
//Yeah, and I'll get some satisfaction watching them get the shit shocked out of 'em too.// Andrew thought with an underlying smile.
//Well, I suppose you've earned it. Watch closely. The show is about to begin... And Orroro is saving Buffy for her grand finale. She wants to chase her across the desert before zapping her.// The Professor thought with his own smile.
//Professor? Are you going to be getting some enjoyment from this too?// Andrew asked, shocked.
//Of course not. I am merely gratified at the prospect of curing those tortured souls and restoring them to themselves.// The Professor thought seriously.
Andrew heard the words, but felt that the Professor was going to enjoy the coming scene nonetheless. //Whatever you say Professor.// Andrew responded indulgently.
The Professor sent a flash of reproval across the telepathic link before saying, //Oh, look, she's about to start... look at that one go...//
* * * * *
The Scoobies and slayers were gathered around the bus. Brief explanations had been given and they were ready to leave.
"You sure you don't want to come with us Andrew? I mean, it is your home." Buffy asked with compassion in her eyes.
"No thank you Buffy. I have a home here and I'm very happy. But there is something that I didn't mention before... the vortex that brought you here... it wasn't magic, it was an ability that I was born with. I can open doorways to different places and dimensions." Andrew said carefully.
"So did you mean to bring us here?" Buffy asked in confusion.
"No, my power honestly did slip out. It found the echo of someone elses interdimensional portal and opened it. In fact, the closed portal is right over there, in front of the bus. I'm going to reopen it to send you home. I didn't have any clue what was going to happen and didn't figure it out until the X-men helped me to understand and control my gift." Andrew said honestly.
"Does that mean you'll be able to open the door whenever you want?" Buffy asked, trying to understand his ability.
"Yes, it means that I might be coming to visit at any time." Andrew said with a smile.
"That would be nice. Giles found a nice place for us in Cleveland before he left Sunnydale... here's the address. Will you keep in touch?" Buffy asked genuinely as she handed Andrew the new address.
"Of course. This is my home now, but that doesn't mean I'm going to forget all of you." Andrew said, getting a little misty at the sentiments being expressed.
"Yo! We going or what?" Robin called from the bus.
Buffy nodded and quietly said, "Goodbye Andrew." And got on the bus.
Andrew flexed his power and reopened the vortex.
He waved as the bus drove through his vortex and was gone.
"So are you going to visit them?" Scott asked as he and Andrew walked back to join the others.
"Nope. Probably not, and I doubt that they expect me to. But I'll keep in touch and I left the possibility open, just in case." Andrew said and rejoined his team.