Hurt & Comfort

Book 3: Deepest Hurt

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Chapter 7: I Touch the Fire

Andrew walked into the dining room to find the people there in groups, talking quietly amongst themselves with Magneto, Emma, and the professor going from group to group.

"Portal, you're with us." Scott said and motioned for Andrew to join them.

Andrew made his way to the group and noticed that almost everyone had changed into uniforms.

"You need to get changed... I think Alan has been waiting for you." Scott said and looked at his brother.

Andrew nodded and made his way to Alan.

"We need to get changed for the battle." Andrew said with hesitation in his voice.

"Yeah, come on... Alex, come on, we have a uniform for you too." Alan said as he headed for the door.

Alex fell into step along side them when Andrew said, "Shortcut."

"Not this time Andy. Let's take the long way this once." Alan said quietly.

Andrew nodded and followed along.

* * * * *

When they reached the locker room, Andrew opened his locker and began to change, deep in his own thoughts.

"What's that?" Alex asked as Alan donned his own uniform.

"They decided to make my uniform different so they could tell Scott and I apart at a glance." Alan said as he pulled on his brown leather uniform with green accents.

Andrew looked at the form-fitting uniform and decided that he liked the way it looked.

"It suits you, love." Andrew said with a smile.

"Go ahead and kiss him, you know you want to." Alex said with exasperation as he put on his own uniform.

Timidly Andrew walked up to Alan and pulled him down for a deep, passionate kiss.

After a few moments Alex finally said, "Are we ready to go?"

Alan pulled out of the kiss and said, "I guess so. Let's go save the world."

Andrew opened a portal and the three uniformed men walked into the dining room.

* * * * *

Team one boarded the jet that Magneto brought and took off for their destination. Soon afterward, team two boarded the Blackbird, piloted by Banshee.

//Andrew, can you get the team to your destination?// The professor asked telepathically.

//I need to know where it is.// Andrew responded.

Images and coordinates flooded his mind and instantly Andrew knew not only their destination, but the layout of the entire compound.

//I've never tried to jump continents before, but I'm sure I can get them there safely.// Andrew thought with confidence.

//I thought so. I will be monitoring the progress of all the teams from Cerebro. If you need anything, just call to me and I'll do my best to help.// The professor sent before letting the link fall silent.

Andrew looked to Scott and gave a nod.

"Whenever you're ready Portal." Cyclops said in his team leader voice.

A moment later team three was at their destination.

* * * * *

"Sprite, Tempest, stay outside the facility and guard our backs." Cyclops said in a commanding tone.

Tara and Dawn looked around and decided to get to high ground for the best view of the surrounding area.

"Portal, you are the designated hacker of our group. You need to destroy the accumulated data while the rest of us will pump this anti-virus into the tanks to neutralize the virus." Cyclops said as they made their way through the darkened facility.

Since it was the wee hours of the morning in Africa, there were only a few guards on duty. The strike team dispatched them quickly and efficiently as they made their way purposefully to their destination. However, one of the guards was able to call for reinforcements.

* * * * *

Andrew worked furiously on the computer and ran into one obstacle after another before reaching the core of information that he was searching for. Once past the security he launched a little virus into the system to reformat the entire network.

"Progress report?" Cyclops asked as he poked his head into the room.

"The mainframe is toast. All storage devices have been reformatted and will soon be rewritten with zeros. I've destroyed the software but I recommend destroying the hardware too... just to be safe." He said and got up from the work station.

"Understood. Can you do it, or do you need help?" Cyclops asked professionally.

"I've got it. Be back in two minutes." Andrew said and ported to the basement.

Andrew located the essential hardware and created a portal below it that sent it into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

As Andrew stepped into the main room Cyclops turned and said, "The professor just said that Sprite and Tempest need assistance outside."

"Got it." Andrew said and cast his mind to find the two women.

* * * * *

"What's the situation?" Andrew asked as he appeared behind Dawn and Tara.

"We can't keep them from advancing. We've sent tornadoes, waterspouts, sheer winds... everything we can think of and they just keep coming." Dawn said with frustration.

"Tara, do you think you can herd the strays back to the main group by yourself?" Andrew asked seriously.

"Yeah, I can do that." Tara said with some relief, knowing that Andrew had a plan.

"Dawn, you and I need to pool our powers to force them into as tight a group as we can." Andrew said and took hold of Dawn's hand.

"What spell?" Dawn asked, assured by Andrew's confidence.

"Tornado." Andrew said with concentration.

Dawn focused her power into a tornado, visualizing it into being. Once the tornado was established, Andrew focused his own power and streaks of flame could be seen in the tornado.

The tornado whipped around the group of frightened soldiers. Occasionally one of them would escape from the tight group and would be hit with a concussive blast of water.

Finally, after long minutes of herding the men, Andrew determined that they were close enough and opened a portal below their feet. A moment later they were gone.

"Where did you send them?" Dawn asked in wonder as the battle abruptly ended.

"To Detroit." Andrew said and let go of Dawn's hand.

"What? You sent a group of African soldiers to Detroit... they're going to get their asses kicked, aren't they?" Dawn asked, beginning to see the humor of Andrew's decision.

"Probably, either way, they'll be out of our hair till we're done here." Andrew said and opened a portal back to the control room.

* * * * *

//Portal, I need for you to evacuate an injured X-Man.// The professor sent with dread.

[Oh Gods, oh Gods no.] Andrew thought to himself before responding. //Tell me where and I'm gone.//

Andrew's mind was flooded with the images of where he needed to be and a moment later he was there.

He looked around at the scene of the explosion. There was burning debris as far as he could see.

[Oh shit!] Andrew gasped mentally as he saw the bloody form of Alan laying a few feet away. He was barely recognizable except for the brown and green uniform. He was missing a leg and bleeding so badly that Andrew couldn't tell where his injuries were.

Andrew was about to whisk them away when he remembered the last time he ported in an emergency. He picked up the limp form of Alan and opened a multiple portal.

"I'm so sorry Andrew. It was booby-trapped..." Storm said as she made her way through some burning debris.

"Come on, we're going back to the mansion." Andrew said and walked four steps to the MedLab.

"Hank, we have an emergency here!" Andrew called out.

A moment later Ororo stepped through the portal and Andrew finally noticed that she was also injured.

Hank ran into the room and gasped at the bloody form that Andrew was carrying.

"Who?" He asked as he laid Alan on the bed.

Andrew then realized that Alan's face was completely obscured by blood, Hank couldn't recognize him.

"Alan." Andrew said and looked down at the blood covering his hands and arms.

//Portal, your team has completed their mission. You need to get them out of there.// The professor sent with sympathy underlying the announcement.

//Right away Professor.// Andrew responded and said to Hank, "I have to get back to my team, take care of him."

"Of course, do what you need to do." Hank said and turned his attention back to Alan.

Andrew opened a portal and stepped through.

* * * * *

"Portal, we're ready to evacuate. Get Sprite and Tempest to safety then come back for us." Cyclops said before he noticed the blood covering Andrew's arms and chest.

Andrew sadly nodded and went to get the witches.

* * * * *

After team three was safe at the mansion, Andrew made his way to the MedLab to find Alan laying peacefully on a bed. Hank was attending to someone in the next room.

"Hank, how is he?" Andrew asked as he entered the next room to find Hank and Jean working on a young woman he didn't know. Emma was working on Artie while Clarissa was watching, crying and terrified.

Hank looked at Andrew and his expression told the story before the words could be said, "There's nothing more I can do for him."

Andrew felt pain pierce through his heart as he asked, "How long?"

"Six hours at the most."

Andrew felt his tears falling and walked in a daze back to Alan's side.

He looked at the bandages and tubes, then finally he gently moved some things out of his way and scooted himself onto the edge of the bed to lay beside Alan, careful not to jostle him or cause him any pain.

A few minutes later Hank walked into the room and said, "Andrew, you can't do this..."

Hank stopped as Andrew looked up at him with pain and loss in his eyes.

"You said there is nothing more that you can do to save him... I want to be here... he wants me here." Andrew finished and laid his head on Alan's shoulder, the only part of his torso that wasn't covered by a bandage.

"You're right. I'll be with my other patients if you have need of me." Hank said and left the room, barely containing his tears.

* * * * *

Hank, Ororo, and Professor Xavier sat in the room silently watching Andrew and Alan.

After an hour of silence Andrew opened his eyes suddenly and gasped. With a look of deep concentration on his face he let loose his power and a portal moved from the ceiling to the floor... and they were gone, Alan, Andrew, and the bed.

The three people in the room looked at each other in question. The professor left the room first, heading for Cerebro, to search for a clue as to their destination.

Hank and Ororo left the room a moment later, each unwilling to voice their flicker of hope that Andrew might have found a way...

To Be Continued...