The X-men stood still and silent, each wondering how long this could possibly take. It had been nearly half an hour since the ceremony began and it showed no signs of ending anytime soon.
Wendell had been chanting constantly the entire time. Dawn, Tara, Giles and Jean were each kneeling at the edge of the circle and every now and then one of them would throw something into the center. Xander stood at the edge of the circle and looked around occasionally, not knowing what he was supposed to be doing. Suddenly Giles stood and began to chant in unison with Wendell. Everyone present was surprised at the beautiful tone of his voice. His strong tenor voice carried the chant into a song. Next Dawn stood and joined the chant, but she wasn't singing the same words as Giles and Wendell. Her song melded and accented Giles and Wendell's song. Tara suddenly stood and began to chant the same song as Dawn, but her verse seemed to be following by a stanza, like a round of 'Row, Row, Row your Boat'.
Finally Jean stood and began to sing in a beautiful clear voice. Her song seemed to be unrelated to the others, but it rang crisp and true.
The singing continued and Tara's song began to get faster as Dawn's began to get slower. Jean continued to sing her own song, but it seemed to be changing into a more familiar tone. Finally all the songs merged into a harmonious voice. Each of the participants threw a different item into the center of the circle at the crescendo of the final note of the chant... and silence fell over the clearing.
A light began to glow in the middle of the circle and grew rapidly until it reached the edge of the circle.
Giles pulled a knife from his belt and handed it to Dawn.
Dawn braced herself and pulled the knife quickly down her palm.
She held her hand inside the circle and when the first drop of blood hit the glowing ground she began a new chant. Jean walked up behind her and began to speak in a clear voice, in a language none present could understand.
Giles walked behind Xander and lifted his arm and directed Xander to put it into the circle as Dawn had.
A mist formed in the circle and finally resolved into the image of Buffy sitting on the edge of her bed, her head buried in her hands.
"Buffy?" Dawn called with excitement.
"Dawn?" Buffy said and looked up at the portal, revealing the tears in her eyes.
"Buffy, get the kids, quick. When this portal closes, we might not be able to open another... ever." Dawn said with force.
Buffy ran from the room and the portal followed her.
"Buffy, the portal is focused on you. Get where you need to be, because I can't hold it like this much longer." Dawn said in warning.
Buffy came to a stop in the lobby of the hotel and called out, "THE PORTAL IS OPENED, GET EVERYONE AND LET'S GO!"
People began to come from every direction.
"Hurry and grab your things, when the portal closes, whoever is left here won't be going back home." Buffy said to the assembled group.
"Hurry Buffy!" Dawn said with urgency.
"I'm hurrying. Here they come." Buffy said and started ushering the first children through the opening.
Scott and the others ran to the first children through the portal and pulled them in for heartfelt hugs.
Dawn was surprised to see Angel heading for the vortex and called out, "Kurt, come here quick."
Kurt appeared in a ::Bamf:: immediately beside Dawn.
"See that man holding the little boy and covering himself with the trench coat? I need you to get him inside, to someplace with no sunlight." Dawn said as Angel stepped through the vortex and began to smoke immediately.
Kurt grabbed onto Angel and the boy and in a ::Bamf:: they were inside the mansion, in the hanger bay.
Angelo and Jubilee were the last to run through the portal.
"Is that everyone?" Dawn asked quickly.
"Yeah, I think so. Tell me quick, what happened?" Buffy said as the vortex began to slowly shrink.
"We stopped the virus, Alan was in an explosion, he and Andrew haven't been seen since. The Giles from this universe helped me to open this portal. We may never be able to open it again... I love you, big sister." Dawn finished in a tearful voice.
"You take care of yourself and Tara. I love you too. Dawnie, take care of Angel. He's going to stay in your universe... he'll explain. Help him to fit in... I love you too." Buffy said as the vortex shrank to less than a foot wide.
* * * * *
Kendra felt a pinching pain in her gut and her eyes suddenly went wide.
[Dere be a vampire close by.] She thought with astonishment.
She ran back to her room and to the backpack that she carried whenever away from home. She pulled out three wooden stakes and two vials of holy water.
[Kendra be finding you vampire, and sending your demon ass to hell where it belongs.] She thought as she left the room to begin tracking the vampire.
* * * * *
"Come in Mr. ??" Charles said as Kurt ushered Angel into his office.
"O'Rourke, but you can call me Angel." he said quietly.
"I have been monitoring the events in the clearing and must admit that I'm puzzled as to why you chose to come here." Charles said and moved from behind his desk.
Angel looked at Kurt then to Charles with a helpless look.
"Kurt, I believe there is a child waiting to speak to me in the outer office, would you wait with him?" Charles said, casting a glance at Angel to see his reaction... which was relief.
After Kurt left the room Charles asked, "So what is it you wanted to tell me privately?"
"One of the children, Chris, I want to see... I don't know how to put it." Angel said with exasperation.
"Is that who's waiting in the outer office?" Charles asked carefully.
Angel nodded, trying to think of how to put his request into words.
"Bring him in and we'll discuss why you're here." Charles said succinctly.
* * * * *
The portal was closed and everyone was with the children except for Giles and Wendell. They had volunteered to gather the supplies back to the mansion.
"So how was it there?" Dawn asked Jubilee with concern.
Jubilee looked up with tearful eyes at Dawn. "I'm so glad to be back. There were demons and vampires and... the kids..." Jubilee said and began to cry.
"The demons won't goto the hotel no more." Angelo said as he put an arm around Jubilee.
"What happened?" Dawn asked moving from concern to worry.
"Ethan made stink bombs for all the kids. I don't think the hotel will ever smell right again." Angelo said in a ramble.
Jean had been listening and asked, "What about the demons?"
"They attacked the second day we were there... the kids thought it was fun... I never saw nothing like it." Angelo said with wide, worried eyes.
"Rachel thought it was funny when they 'popped'. She was making their internal organs explode." Jubilee said with worry and a bit of fear.
Angelo held Jubilee close and began to stroke her arm soothingly.
"No one's seen Wesley since yesterday. I... I don't know what they did with him." Jubilee said with a note of fear.
"Maybe I can help with that." Jean said and cast her telepathy out to find the answer amongst the children's minds.
"It was an accident... his hair will grow back... he wasn't hurt... physically." Jean said with assurance before focusing on the people before her again.
"Fred wants to get her tubes tied and for Gunn to get a vasectomy, just to be sure." Jubilee said tiredly.
"I'm guessing they didn't behave themselves for you." Jean said with a weak smile.
"I NEVER want to be in charge of the kids again. One at a time they're great but as a group they're EVIL. I mean the *demons* were afraid of them... from the depths of hell, real live *DEMONS* were afraid of those kids..." Jubilee said and began crying again.
"It's okay Mija, we're back home, we're not responsible for the kids anymore." Angelo said as he led Jubilee to a couch.
* * * * *
Kendra followed her slayer senses through the levels of the mansion and finally tracked the feel of the vampire and narrowed her search to one floor of the mansion.
Before long she had eliminated three hallways on the main floor and began to walk down the last as she held her stake tightly with anticipation.
* * * * *
Angel walked to the outer office and motioned. A young boy, maybe fourteen, walked in shyly behind him.
Angel knelt down and said quietly, "Don't worry Chris, Professor Xavier won't hurt you. Just talk with him and maybe he can find a way so we can stay together."
The door burst open and Angel automatically pulled Chris close to protect him.
"Let loose o dat boy, vampire!" Kendra screamed as she ran into the room with her stake raised to strike.
"NO!" Chris screamed and pulled out of Angel's grasp in time to throw himself into the path of the stake that was plunging toward Angel's heart.
There was a sickening 'Thunk' as the stake pierced Chris' chest and he fell limp into Angel's arms.
* * * * *
Jean had sensed the shock of the Professor and the fear of Chris before his mind went silent. She ran down the hall and into the Professor's office to a surreal sight.
She took just a split second to glean the events of the past minute from the Professor and Kendra's minds.
//Orroro, I need for you to brew up the biggest storm that you can make to feed Dawn and Tara power.// //Tara, Dawn, get down to the MedLab and set up the spell to open a vortex to Alan. I'll feed you power and Orroro is going to stir up the elements for you. A boy is going to die unless you do it NOW!// //Mr. Giles, Wendell, get in the nearest elevator and go to the basement. Someone will take you to the proper place for a ceremony. Kendra just staked a fourteen year old boy. If you want to save the boy, you'll help us do this.// //Scott, Alex, get down to the MedLab and help Dawn, she knows what to do.// //Professor, call Emma Frost. Then I could use Hank's help. Try to convince him to help save this boy.// //Xander, Remy, keep the children busy. It's going to get pretty scary in a few minutes.// "Angel, we're going to the MedLab downstairs. I'm a doctor and I may be able to save him." Jean sent and said simultaneously while she put a hand on Angel's shoulder.
Angel looked at her with watery eyes and nodded.
There was a blinding flash of light. When Charles could focus his eyes again Angel, Jean and Chris were gone.
//Jean, what did you just do?// Charles asked curiously.
//No time. Get Hank.// Jean sent sharply and closed the link.
* * * * *
Dawn, Tara, Scott and Alex began carrying the supplies to open a portal from the garage where they had been stored to the MedLab. They set up for the spell in the recovery room off of surgery, the last place that Andrew and Alan had been seen.
Scott watched helplessly as Dawn set up the spell as she had done in the clearing. She quickly ran out of the room and returned a moment later with two frozen bags.
"These bags have some of Alan's blood and some of his flesh. Hank and I saved everything we could so I could use them in this spell. Normally something like this wouldn't work, but since you two are almost identical, it should be close enough to lock in on him wherever he is." Dawn said in explanation as she went through the supplies.
"Do we need to get Jean?" Scott asked as he looked at the two bags.
"No, you saw the ritual performed, you take Xander's part. Wendell will take Jean's. Alex with take Wendell's part which is just chanting. Alex can follow along with the paper, everything is spelled phonetically and you've both heard it once. Go through it with Alex one time while Tara and I finish setting up." Dawn commanded and went back to arranging things.
Finally there was silence as Alex and Scott finished their practice and Tara and Dawn had everything in place.
"Let's get this moving, from what Jean said, a boy's life is at stake. We've got one shot at this so let's make it count." Dawn said and motioned to Alex.
Alex looked at the paper and began a slow rhythmic chant.
* * * * *
//Jean is there anything you can do?// Charles asked quietly.
//The stake has pierced his aorta and done damage to the heart itself. He'll die if we remove the stake and he'll die if we don't.// Jean sent back with frustration.
//Why do you have Dawn and Tara opening a portal?// Charles asked curiously.
//I really don't have time Professor. I promise that when all of this is done I'll explain everything to you. But for right now, please trust me.// Jean sent with tired pleading.
//I trust you Jean, I always have.// The Professor sent before letting the link go silent.
* * * * *
"Dr. McCoy, there is a child with a ten inch piece of wood sticking through his heart. Dr. Grey can't save him. We *need* you Hank." The Professor said with desperation.
"I'm sorry Professor, but you'll have to find someone else." Hank said in a defeated voice.
"There *is* no one else. You have to get down there right now!" The Professor said with force.
Silence was the only answer he received.
"Damn you Hank. Damn you and your lies about how being a mutant didn't make you less human. You lied to me, to all of us. You think we're animals because we're mutants, don't you." The Professor said with fury.
More silence was the Professor's answer.
"Because if you thought that mutants were real people you'd be down there saving that little boy's life rather than being up here mourning your 'lost humanity'." The Professor said with disgust.
The Professor received the silence he expected and left Hank's door.
//I'm sorry Jean.// The Professor sent in defeat.
//Then there's just one chance.// Jean sent back in concentration.