"You’ve got to be kidding me," the Texan says as he looks at the moltav cocktail that the man is holding.
"Do I look like I’m kidding boy?" The old moon shiner asks, bringing the lighter closer to the wadded bit of cloth. "It would be a shame if this were to go and hit that nice truck of yours."
“All right easy there old man. I don’t own any of the things in this story it belongs to various people that if you want to know the exact owners you’ll have to go and check my earlier chapters."
"There now that wasn’t so hard now was it?" Jesse Duke asks as he snaps the lighter off.
(We're little more than halfway done folks!)
Scott frowned as he did a flyby of the Sunnydale airport, which appeared to be abandoned. “Just as I told you, Scott,” Xavier said from his seat. Scott nodded, but he preferred to be cautious these days rather than end up on the wrong side of a trap. He reluctantly brought the stealth jet down; the whole place just had him on edge. He noticed that Logan was even more tense than usual, and since they were on a plane that was saying a lot.
“Well, sir, what can we expect?” Scott asked his old teacher. His mind was more interested in what might have happened to his sole surviving cousin. Dawn was the only one left alive, and he would be damned if he was going to lose her, too. He had already lost Jean and Buffy to saving the world, there was no way that he was going to lose Dawn as well.
“I don’t know, Scott. The thought patterns around this entire city are muddled, as if something is trying to block my powers, and the few minds that I am picking up are mainly displaying emotions that are a mixture of terror, relief, worry, and anger. There are a few others as well, but those are the main ones. There’s also a feeling of certainty, as if someone’s made a choice that they feel is right despite everything.” Of course, some of the minds that he sensed were closer than others.
“Any idea what that choice might be, Professor?” Rogue asked.
“No, I’m afraid I have no idea what could be causing those feelings,” Xavier admitted. He didn’t tell them about the darkness that he sensed. He hadn’t felt such concentrated darkness since his encounter with the Shadow King in Egypt. That had been before he had lost the use of his legs. The only problem, though, was that back then the dark feeling had centered on Farouk, while this feeling was everywhere in this town. As if it was consumed by evil.
“So, Cyclops, do you have a return address for that letter of yours?” Kitty asked as she walked down the ramp.
“Yes, I do, but we didn’t think that landing a top secret jet on her street was the best way to find her either.”
“So how are we going to get there?” Kitty asked. “’Cause walking the entire way does not sound like a whole lot of fun to me.”
“Do not worry yourself, Katya. I will carry you if you need help,” Colossus offered.
Narrowing her eyes, the girl turned to regard her ex. “We are in the field, Colossus, and you will use code names as you are supposed to. Is that understood?”
“But I was only offering…”
“Is that understood?”
“Da, Shadowcat, I think I see things perfectly,” the Russian mutant muttered. “In fact, you are almost transparent in your opinion.”
“Well, it’s about time something got through that thick head of yours,” Shadowcat returned. Colossus merely nodded at her as he walked down the ramp in silence.
Cyclops and Xavier sent knowing looks at Havoc, who at least had the decency to look embarrassed about what was happening Wolverine watched everyone as they dealt with the drama that was unfolding in front of them. He hoped that was the end of it, though he knew that with his luck, it probably wasn’t. If the tin man hurt one of his girls though, he would just have to do a demonstration on which was more powerful, organic steel or adamantium.
“Actually, I do believe that is our cue to find some alternative manner of transport in which to convey ourselves. Mr. Wagner, if you would be so kind as to furnish me with a method of crossing the great divide with the fastest possible conclusion?”
“Ja, mein friend,” the German mutant said as he grabbed the other blue furredmutant. The two disappeared in a cloud of smoke with a slight popping sound.
“Shall we proceed that way?” Xavier asked the others and they followed him in silence.
“Hang on, Professor,” Logan said, pausing to light a cigar. He took a long pull and blew a large cloud of smoke to the side. Ignoring the grossed out looks he was receiving from most of the other people, he watched the small smoke cloud hit something. The feral mutant smirked as several people could be heard coughing. Reaching over, he jerked a piece of cloth out of the air, showing a black haired boy who was coughing. “The rest of you want to show yourselves?” A few muttered words later a brown haired girl and a red headed boy joined them.
Once they had finished coughing, the trio looked at the group dressed in black leather outfits with giant X’s on the front. The dark haired boy’s hand was close to his pocket, where he obviously kept some kind of weapon. The teen’s eyes scanned the crowd suspiciously; reluctantly his hand moved away from his pocket, obviously noticing that they were out numbered 2 to 1. Still smirking, Wolverine looked at the three teens. “So, you kids want to tell us what yer doing here?” The mutant eyed them carefully; anyone with powers like they had were dangerous. The tallest of them was a freckled red head with hair that was way too bright and blue eyes. The girl had bushy brown hair and brown eyes full of curiosity. Then there was the black haired kid. The boy was a bit on the runty side, not that Wolverine had a whole lot of room to talk, and wore glasses that hid a pair of intense green eyes that reminded Wolverine a bit of his own and occasionally Rogue’s eyes were like that, with all the memories that she had stuck in her head. “This ain’t exactly the safest of places to be right now, you know,” he told them.
“We’ve got to help someone,” the dark haired kid said and all three of the teens’ eyes seemed to harden. “And we need to get there soon. So if you’ll excuse us, we’ll be going. Her family is waiting.”
“I take it that you on your way to visit Miss Summers, then?” The three teens stiffened at this. “Have no fear,” Xavier assured them. “We also came to see if there was anything that we could do to help. Perhaps it would be better if we all went there together. It would save the time of having one of us following the other, making us nervous, and likely to do something that we would regret later on.”
The three teens looked uncertain. “You mean you actually intend to help?” the red head finally asked in shock, as if the idea of someone helping in a fight was a surprise.
“Ron!” the other two cried.
“What? I’m just saying that more often than not we get stonewalled when it comes to this sort of thing, despite some of the stuff that we’ve done. Especially you, mate,” he said to his friend.
“Maybe, but that’s also because the war is being fought on a political level as well as a physical one,” the girl returned.
“Quiet!” Wolverine snarled at the two.
The two quieted immediately as they looked fearfully at the man. “Wow,” the other teen said admiringly as he looked at his companions. “I didn’t think anybody could get them to stop that fast.” The other two glared at him.
“Whatever, kid. So are you going to come with us or not?” Wolverine asked them impatiently.
“Can you give us a moment?”
“Make it fast,” Xavier ordered the three teens.
The group walked back a few steps to talk. Wolverine watched out of the corner of his eye as the girl pulled a short stick out of her pocket and muttered something in a language that he couldn’t understand. Suddenly, much to his annoyance, he couldn’t hear what they were saying anymore. “Can you get in their heads, Chuck? I can’t here them anymore.”
“Really? They are somehow holding the very air in some sort of bubble to have a conversation in private,” Xavier mused.
“Yeah, that’s real nice, Chuck,” Wolverine said in annoyance. “Though I never saw a person use a stick and speak a foreign language to use their powers before.”
Xavier laughed at this. “Perhaps they believe it is magic of some type, or maybe it helps them focus.”
“Whatever. Are you going to listen in or not?”
“No,” Xavier answered. “Besides, here they come.” The X-men turned to see the three teens walking back towards them. “Well?”
“We’ll work together,” the girl said.
“Excellent, Miss Granger. And I have the utmost pleasure of introducing you to two more members of your family. Scott and Alex are your cousins,” he said, waving to the two men.
“How did you…”
“I have certain gifts, Mr. Weasley.”
“Great, a bloody Legilimens.”
“Ron!” the girl shouted at him.
“What? You know I’m right,” the boy replied, setting his jaw stubbornly.
“That doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to be rude to a man just because he’s proficient at it,” she returned.
“Please stay out of our heads,” the other boy requested. “The last person we knew that could do that sort of thing ended up betraying us.”
“Of course, and I’m sorry for troubling you like that. I merely checked your surface thoughts to make sure you weren’t a threat. It is far better to be safe than sorry, particularly in this town,” Xavier explained. “Your names were merely on the very top.”
“Sure,” the red headed boy said. “Course you know us now, but we don’t know you.” He said the last part almost accusingly.
“Of course. I am Professor Charles Xavier. To my right is, Cyclops; next to him are Storm and Havoc. On my left side are Rogue, Shadowcat, Iceman, and Colossus. And of course the man scaring you is called Wolverine,” he added in amusement, since the feral mutant had yet to quit scowling at the threesome. Wolverine nodded at the teens as a greeting.
“Nice to meet you,” the red head said nervously. “I’m Ron, Ron Weasley”
“I’m Hermione Granger and that’s Harry Potter,” the girl supplied.
“Very well, it’s a pleasure to meet you all,” the Professor replied, shaking hands with each of them. “And it looks like our ride has finally decided to come.” He gestured towards two vans that were heading their way.
“Actually, we have a ride of our own, but if you’ll lead the way…”
“What kind of ride do you kids have?”
“We’ll show you, as long as you promise not to go mental when you see it,” Ron said.
Xavier smiled at the boy that reminded him a bit of Bobby. “Tell you what, Ron, I promise not to go mental, as you put it, when I see your ride, if you promise no to go mental when you see the other two members of my team. Do we have a deal?”
“Done,” Ron replied.
“Right,” Hermione chimed in. “Harry, you want to go and get Thanos for us please?”
Harry grinned lightly. “What? You mean you don’t want to go get him? Why ever not?”
“Just do it, you prat,” Hermione ordered, small smiles gracing her and Ron’s faces. Nodding, Harry walked off to fetch their ride.
“Is their something about your ride that we should know?” Storm asked them worriedly; she did not want the boy to be hurt.
“Sorry, it’s just that’s the first time he’s actually been able to crack a joke and smile. And we mean actually smile,” Ron said. “Trust me, he’s been a real prat lately. And we’ve still got a lot to do before this over.”
“I thought he smelled like he had lost something,” Wolverine commented as he watched the dark haired boy disappear around a corner.
Harry hurried around the hangar where they had left the thestral and carriage. The dark haired youth froze, though, as he saw the figure talking to the dark flying horse. The person was obviously waiting for one of them to come back. “Hello, Harry,” the figure said, turning to face him.
“Sir,” Harry said softly, taking in the purple robes that flowed behind the figure and the blue eyes that twinkled behind a pair half moon spectacles that rested on a crooked nose. The man’s long beard and hair looked almost like silver in the dark night as each strand reflected some unknown light.
“Harry,” Dumbledore repeated as if he was back at Hogwarts, playing some sort of game with him, or had a riddle he was about to talk about. “It’s good to see you looking well. Though I must admit, I had anticipated quite different surroundings than the ones we currently find ourselves at,” the former Headmaster of Hogwarts said, giving Harry a questioning look that was mixed with worry. “Did you really think the answers to this fight would be on the Hellmouth, Harry? An extremely active and powerful Hellmouth, I might add. At least you had the foresight to bring your friends.”
“As if they would have let me come on my own,” the boy grumbled. “We had to take care of this problem, Professor,” he said, trying to sound confident in front of Dumbledore. “Besides, what’s the use of hiding behind blood wards that Voldemort can’t get through, if the world has ended? And since the school year hasn’t officially ended yet, we still have some time.”
“And if this turns out to be a repeat of the Tower, or the Department of Mysteries?” Harry flinched. “Will Miss Granger be understanding if her family is hurt over you or Mr. Weasley? And what if this fight takes longer than you think? The protection your mother’s blood provides for you might wear off. What will you do then?”
“That’s a chance I’m afraid I’ll have to risk, sir,” Harry said, no longer even bothering to pretend that he knew what he was doing. “Besides, if we win, we might gain some friends out of this that could help us. If for nothing more than to make some of the vampires think twice before they make their move.”
“Yes, having a Slayer as an ally would make many creatures of darkness back off, but that same threat might also convince others to join Tom’s army. There are quite a number of beings that would like a chance at this infamous Slayer.”
“Well, then I guess we both better pray that I can work a miracle with Hermione’s cousin and get this done fast enough,” Harry said wearily as if another weight had been placed on his young, overburdened shoulders.
“Ever the optimist, eh Harry? Look what my optimistic nature got me,” Dumbledore said, indicating his state of life.
Harry shuddered as he remembered that the person before him was dead and coulnd’t help him anymore. Maybe now that he was gone, Dumbledore could tell him why he trusted Snape. And even more, why he hadn’t defended himself on the tower. “Professor…” he started.
“You done scaring the kid yet? Or do you need a few more minutes?” a gruff voice asked as Wolverine stepped out of the shadows, where he had obviously been listening. “Come on and show yerself, if you’ve got the guts.” Following Harry’s gaze, he smiled coldly. “Oh, that’s right, you don’t have anything like that, do ya?”
“Until next time we meet, Harry,” Dumbledore said before he vanished and in his place was a muggle dressed all in black, with graying hair and beard. “Ah, Wolverine, how great to see you again.”
“Stryker,” the mutant greeted curtly. “Or do you prefer First?”
“That is a problem with you, Wolverine,” the man complained. “You rely on all of your senses, allowing you to test all of the possibilities before you take action. It is one of your more useful qualities, when you have enough patience to actually wait and learn.”
“Why are you still here, bub? If you’ve got something you want to say to me, then go ahead and spill it all ready.”
“Very well,” the First said. “I would like to offer you a deal. You see, while I am in this form, I have all of the memories of the late and un-mourned William Stryker.”
“Yeah, so?” Wolverine asked, obviously unimpressed by this bit of information.
“So, I can tell you all about your past. Think about it. No more questions. No more begging Xavier to go back into your head, only to be rejected because he thinks you should heal naturally. As if what was done to you was even natural,” the First/Stryker scoffed. “It’s amazing how little he was willing to do for you after he had Magneto wrapped up in his plastic coffin, isn’t it? He gave you one tidbit and the rest you’re supposed to just figure out on your own. I’m giving you the chance to learn it all.”
The mutant stared longingly at Stryker’s form. “What’s the catch?” he asked reluctantly, not believing that this thing would just give him that kind of information.
“I always did think that you were more intelligent than Stryker gave you credit for.”
“Do you know how weird talking like that is when you look like that?”
“Sorry, is this better?” Logan growled on instinct as the figure morphed into an elderly oriental man. “Does this form stir up memories for you? It must be frustrating for you that your eyes know this body, but your mind does not.”
Wolverine growled again at the comment. The image of a sword flashed through his memory. “Forget it,” he grunted. “I promised Jean that I’d hang around for a while.”
“Are you sure that is what you want?” the man questioned as he morphed into a Native American girl with a sweet smile. Wolverine fell to his knees, clutching his head in pain as his head tried to piece together what he was seeing. A cabin, Sabertooth, and the motionless body of the Indian girl.
“Or perhaps you actually prefer not knowing, Patch,” a tall black man with a beaten pilots hat said. “Of course, you’ve been searching for answers for a while now.” Logan held back a growl as the image of a bar went through his mind. There were people in the bar, a tall man with a beard and a thin man talking to him. The big man and a woman were fighting. Another woman that was even shorter than him was holding him by the collar of his jacket. He closed his eyes as he was assailed by memories. Another man with blonde hair and blue eyes, he had some type of blue body armor on, it had a star on it.
Logan bit his lip in pain as he felt the memories trying to push their way to the front, but it just wasn’t enough, he needed more information.
“So what is your answer?” a woman that reminded him of Jean asked, but she was different somehow, her clothes were straight out of a history book. Looking at her an image of a fat tub of lard sprang to mind; it was some type of cage match, along with some long man in beaten clothes.
“I told you, I made a promise and I intend to keep that promise.”
“As you wish,” the red head said, disappearing in a flash of light.
Wolverine panted for a moment as his headache finally subsided. “Well that was fun, wasn’t it?” he asked the teen beside him as he climbed shakily to his feet. He had been so close to remembering, but now it was all gone. Harry nodded in agreement. “Here, you left this,” he said, handing Harry his dad’s invisibility cloak.
“Thanks,” Harry replied in shock; this man had just given up what he wanted for the future of the world. When the time came, would he be able to make that sort of sacrifice for the world and for the ones he loved?
“Nice horse you got there,” Wolverine commented.
“You can see it?”
“Only those that have seen death can see it,” the teen explained.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in my life, kid, and most of it hasn’t been very nice,” Wolverine replied. “Hopefully you won’t have to see all that I have.”
“I can hope,” the boy muttered. “But it probably won’t happen.”
“C’mon, the others were getting worried about ya.” Harry nodded as they led the thestral and carriage over to the waiting vans, where Ron Weasley was currently talking with a skinny blue something or other, and Hermione was having a conversation with what might be it’s big brother. “Um, who are they?”
“The elf is Nightcrawler and the brainiac over there is Beast.”
“A pleasure,” Harry greeted as he eyed the two blue men carefully. The big one reminded him of a giant blue gorilla, or maybe a cross between a small troll and a ape, and the smaller one looked like a furry blue cross between a goblin and a house elf.
The two men raised their eyebrows in surprise; they were used to bigger reactions than simply a double take, yet these three teenagers had simply accepted them without question and had even greeted them politely despite their apearances.
“You know, it’s been quite a while since I have been greeted so cordially,” Beast said as he shook Harry’s hand.
“Ja, it’s nice not to have to hide in the shadows, eh mein friend?”
“Now that we are all together, might I suggest that we get going?” Xavier said.
“Sure, Professor,” the X-men replied.
“Oh yeah, and not to put a damper on things, but what the hell kind of horse is that?” Iceman asked, pointing at the thestra.
“You can see him?” Hermione asked in surprise.
“You seem surprised,” Rogue said, looking at the horse. “After all the creepy thing is right there.” She nodded at the magical horse.
“Comrades, what are you talking about? There is nothing there but a carriage with no horse.”
“What are you talking about, big guy? There’s like this big, black horse in front of the cart,” Iceman said to his friend. “It’s like right out of some horror movie or something. It’s even got a mean pair of wings. Definitely not the cute pony some girls have hanging in their rooms.”
“But only people that have seen death can see thestrals,” Hermione said, shocked that so many of the X-men could see the thestral. “If that’s true, it means…”
“That we’ve all seen death? Yeah, we’ve seen some things that aren’t very pretty,” Bobby said dryly. “But it’s part of the problem with being a mutant in this day and age. You have to grow up really fast, whether you want to or not.”
“Look you can discuss your lives later, but right now we need to get going. The world needs someone to save it again,” Wolverine said, impatient to be away from this place. “And guess what? We just got elected, and in some cases volunteered, for the job this time around,” he finished sarcastically.
“Quite right, Wolverine, so if you can all put a hold on your questions, we need to find the Summer’s residence,” Xavier ordered them all.
“Um, Professor? Would you perhaps like to ride in the carriage? It would accommodate you and Beast better,” Hermione offered timidly.
“Well, my dear, in the interest of cooperation, I think that I would love to,” Xavier said to her as Beast followed him to the side of the carriage, where he was lifted onto a seat.
The broad shouldered, mutant genius followed after his mentor. “I must acknowledge that this is much more acceptable than the other method of conveyance,” the mutant commented to the people already inside. “And my shoulders are also in a much less painful positions as well.”
“All right, boy, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Find Buffy,” Harry told the horse. “Find the Slayer.” The horse nodded in excitement as it began moving out. “Wait for me, boy,” laughed the teen as he jumped inside. The X-men shared a worried look; they knew that the First had already killed Buffy Summers, but they didn’t have the heart at the moment to say anything to the teens.
“Well, I’d like to see her grave anyways,” Scott said as he got in the van. The others followed and they took off after the carriage with a flying horse hooked to it.