author: Lucinda

rating: pg/pg 13

main character: Xander

pairing: sort of Xander/Jubilee, mention of past-tense BtVS relationships and crushes.

disclaimer: I do not own any characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or X-Men: the Movie, nor do I hold any legal rights to the comic sources for some of the additional background information for Movie characters.

distribution: TNL, Twisting the Hellmouth, Cat if she wants it. Anyone else ask.

note: going rather AU after Becoming for Buffy (yes, all the way back to season 2!), post X-Men the Movie (Sequel? what sequel?).

Buffy had vanished, Cordelia was gone for the summer, somewhere in Mexico with her parents, and Willow... for once, her parents had taken her with them somewhere. She'd told him before they'd left, in a state of worried bewilderment, apparently, some of the people that they intended to encounter at this lecture were firm believers in families, and family bonding. All of which meant that Xander was alone over the hellmouth.

Which might have been some of the explanation why Xander was feeling so... miserable. He felt lonely, and bored, and he missed his friends. But that didn't quite explain why every muscle in his body felt achy, sort of like a bruise, or why his bones itched, surely the most miserable torment imaginable, or why his stomach kept feeling like it was doing the twist, trying to become a pretzel. He felt almost sick, but he didn't have a fever. Xander wanted to think it was just that he was missing everyone, but a part of him didn't think it was something that simple.

Not caring that he was alone, nor that the sun was setting, he wandered through the park, muttering to himself. "Maybe it's a side effect of some sort of demon slime and I'm dying. Maybe my insides are trying to turn to goo and that's why it hurts. Maybe I've been infected by some fatal to humans but only annoying to demons virus and..."

His monolog was interrupted by a pair of vampires attacking him, carrying the peculiar scent of dirt, old blood and something almost like decay that proclaimed them as minions. He tried to fight, but he didn't have the strength to keep two vampires away for long. The lighter haired one bit into his shoulder, a ripping tearing sensation that sent waves of pain down to his toes. He gasped at the pain, certain that he was going to die.

Heat seemed to claw at his insides, almost like the reverse of eating some of Uncle Rory's chili. It burned, the waves of heat reversing the trail of the pain, and it exploded out of him. He couldn't see around the green fire that was everywhere, could only hear the brief scream of the vampires as they combusted, the roar of the flames... the crackling scorching of the grass and the desperate nearly shrieking squeal of green leaves incinerating. He was in the middle of a sea of fire, and it was green. Then, everything went dark.

It couldn't have been more than a few moments later that he opened his eyes, collapsed in the middle of ashes, a large, almost spiraled pattern of ashes and char radiating from the center. He felt a bit lightheaded, and his muscles seemed to think they had become the jelly filling from his earlier donut. His shoulder felt bruised and almost burned, but not like there was an open wound. But this time, as he looked around, he understood that he shouldn't be wandering around alone at night, especially if he wasn't paying attention to his surroundings.

As Xander Harris trudged slowly home, he wished that Willow was here. She would be able to help figure out what was happening to him. To learn why everything felt achy and where the green fire had come from. A small part of him knew though, knew that it had been from HIM, that he had caused the flames, that they were another symptom of the cause of the aches, the itching bones, the churning stomach. Something was changing in him, for him, and nothing would be quite the same again.

It was no more than two days later that the flames came back, this time in response to his father. Harris senior was drunk, again, and taking it out on his wife, and decided to take it out on his son as well. No sooner had his fist sent Xander into the wall, slamming his still sore shoulder into the wall with a painful popping sensation that Xander felt the heat again. The green fire spilled out of him, licking towards his father, towards the man who had terrorized his mother and Xander for years, filling the room with the stench of burning carpet. Xander scrambled to his feet, helping his mother up and they bolted from the house. His father was shouting curses at Xander, foul vile things as he fought to put out the fire.

Xander insisted on taking his mother to the hospital, fearful that this time, his father had gone to far, that he'd broken something this time. She had so many bruises, and some small cuts on her face and arms... His mother turned out to have cracks in her arm bone, cracked ribs, and so many bruises... including internal bruising. They wanted to keep her in the hospital, and this time, oh thank god for some tiny shred of goodness, this time she was willing to speak out, to report her husband's violence, to press charges against him.

He wasn't surprised to find his few belongings thrown out onto the lawn when he'd returned from the hospital. Honestly, he'd half expected it. Xander gathered them up, forming an awkward bundle as he trudged towards the only place that he considered 'safety' at the moment - Willow's house. Even if she wasn't there, it would be safe. He let himself in with the key she'd given him in fourth grade, dropping his things on the dining room floor, collapsing onto the couch as exhaustion claimed him.

Morning brought clarity, and he understood a little bit. He was a mutant, and the fire was his difference, his power or curse, depending on how he choose to view it. He couldn't stay here, he would have to leave, to go far away from his father, from all his father's friends. Concentrating, he remembered something that Willow had found on the internet, he wasn't quite certain how. There was a place in New York, a special school for mutants. A place called Xavier's School. He would go there. He went to Willow's room, finding the pages that she'd printed out about this strange school, opening the box where she kept 'emergency money' from her parents. He didn't want to, but he took out a few hundred dollars, knowing that it cost money to travel across the country. He left her a note in it's place, explaining what had happened, why he'd taken the money, and what he intended to do. How she would always be his friend, but Sunnydale wasn't safe for him anymore.

His trip from California to New York, on a series of busses, was long, boring, and left him feeling stiff and achy, or maybe the achy was still from being... a mutant. He ended up taking a taxi to the address of the school, a sense of desperation filling him. If this didn't work, if they wouldn't take him in, where could he go? The money was gone, he had no family here... Swallowing, he made his way across the lawn, something far bigger and more impressive than anything else he'd seen.

Xander knocked at the door, and it was opened, revealing a girl about his age, not quite as tall as Buffy, with short black hair, wearing a bright swirling yellow and orange shirt. She had the brightest blue eyes... "Hey... can I help you?"

For a moment, he was speechless. She was pretty, not as stunning as Cordelia, but definitely pretty, and there was this feeling of energy and enthusiasm to her... He almost thought he could see fireworks, gold and pink and orange and white, dancing around her. Trying to speak with a suddenly dry tongue, his words were... rather unimpressive. "I need to talk to someone... to come here to stay. I haven't got anywhere else..."

She smiled, looking impossibly cheerful. "Sure, right this way. I'm Jubilee, and you're...?"

"Xander Harris... from California." He moved after her, part of him noticing the expensive and elegant furnishings, part of him noticing the way she seemed so confident, so comfortable here.

With a charming grin, she gave a thumbs up. "Great. It'll be good to have another Californian around."

Something inside Xander sort of... pulsed, and he had an uncomfortable but almost familiar feeling. This girl, Jubilee was... wonderful. He could feel the crush forming now... and he could only hope that it went better than the last few he'd had. Miss French, Ampata, Cordelia... even his thing for Buffy hadn't gone well. She probably had a boyfriend already... and he knew that that wouldn't stop him. He would try his best to win Jubilee, to get her to notice him.

She took him to an office, where a man that reminded him an awfully lot of Captain Picard sat behind a desk, looking not at all surprised by the situation. Jubilee gave him a quick smile and ducked out, leaving him alone with this guy. Xander struggled with the urge to say 'reporting to the bridge, captain.'

"This isn't a starship, and I'm not a captain. Please, sit down. You're quite safe here." His voice was a calm baritone, mellow and with the suggestion of an accent. It reminded him almost of Giles. "I am Professor Charles Xavier. Perhaps... you could tell me why you came here?"

"How did you know... umm. Right. I'm Xander Harris, and I'm... I guess I'm a mutant. It's the only explanation. My friend found out about this school, she said it was a place for mutants. And I don't have anywhere else to go." Xander collapsed into one of the chairs, still feeling exhausted from his trip.

"As for how I knew you were thinking about a starship, I'm a telepath. I've seen that show actually, quite a handsome man, that Captain Picard." His lips twitched in an amused smile. "While I'm not sure how your friend found out, she's absolutely right that this is a place for mutants. A place to be safe, and to learn to control their abilities. Do you know what your mutation is?"

"Some sort of funky green fire. It's showed up twice... both times immediately after I'd been hurt. I have no idea how to control it, why it's green, why me, how big the fire could get, or why it showed up when I was hurt." Xander shrugged, wincing as the motion sent his shoulder into another wave of agony. It hadn't felt right since he'd hit the wall at his parents house.

"I think... you should see Doctor Jean Grey, she might be able to do something about your shoulder. The fire was probably an instinctive defensive reaction, and we will be able to try to figure out how big later, in a controlled environment." The Professor seemed so calm, as if he'd heard things like this all the time. Maybe he did.

"Controlled environment... don't see very many of those. So, I can stay?" Xander felt hope stir inside of him. He could stay, they would help him learn to control this fire, and a doctor would look at his shoulder. Maybe... since he was staying, maybe he'd see more of the delightful Jubilee?

So, Xander went to see the doctor, a calm redhead that made him think of Willow. After a few moments, she told him that his shoulder was dislocated, and there was some sort of injury that looked to have been cauterized, to have been burned closed. The pain from her fixing his shoulder made his head spin, even with the nice pain-killers she'd given him.

He found himself in a room with a guy named Bobby Drake, someone who could make ice. He seemed to be an okay guy, with a crush on some girl named Marie. Xander listened while carefully putting his few things away, thinking that the only thing that would make things better would be Willow. Life was looking better.

Especially since Jubilee was only three rooms down the hall.

end Fireworks.