A/N: I do not own any of X-Men: Evolution or its characters or elements. However, credit to the owners of each OC appearing in this fanfic is given in my artist's comments on this chapter on deviantArt. WARNING: This fanfiction contains language, violence, and fancharacter/OCxCanon use! If you do not care for any of the above, this is not the fanfiction for you! NOTE: This fanfiction is the sequel to my other X-Men: Evolution fanfiction, "Tempest Fury." I highly recommend you read that one in its entirety before you start reading this one! R&R please!
Prologue: The Nightmare
Professor Charles Xavier was not given to having dreams.
And yet, there he was regardless. He was not even completely sure how he knew he was dreaming, just that a vague awareness in the back of his thoughts had clued him in. He was standing near the edge of a cliff, its rocky face pointing out toward the sea. Wind was whipping all around him, battering his form with sheer force and ocean spray as the thundering of the sea and the storm rang in his ears. Gritting his teeth, he realized he was standing, standing on his own two legs, and he immediately shifted them to better stand against the raging forces of sea and storm. Where was he? And who else was with him?
"I-I cannot control it any more!" a familiar voice with a distinct German accent sobbed, "It's too powerful."
He turned toward the cliff's edge, squinting against the spray, just managing to make out the shaking outline of an adolescent boy with his arms outstretched, blonde hair drenched and stark against his soaking black clothes. He turned to his right, only half-surprised to find someone there he knew so well, also struggling against the high winds.
"We have to help him, Erik!" he found himself shouting above the wind, "He cannot do this alone!"
Magneto responded with a grave nod, and the two started pressing forward against the wind. Despite the circumstances, Xavier found he felt strangely at ease. Arial needed help from them both. And together, they should have no trouble.
The wind was unrelenting, slamming into them with a galeforce as the sea rose and churned in its anger. His feet kept slipping backwards over the wet rock, and he began to fear he wouldn't make it when Magneto seized him by the shoulder, propelling them both forward. Only then did the two begin to make it, drawing closer to their young student. The cliff seemed to rise, going higher and higher, and the wind shrieked and howled as the waves below began to crash into the cliffside, but Magneto gave a snarl of anger and the professor gritted his teeth, silently refusing to give up.
But the second they drew near, something went wrong.
The shadows were poorly defined where they stood, most of the light having been swallowed up in the storm's angry gray presence. But the shadows were present nonetheless, and they shifted and moved and grew in ways that shouldn't have been possible. They rose from the ground like a living creature, coiling their blackness into—
"Thorns?" he murmured.
"Charles!" Magneto yelled abruptly, jabbing a finger against the wind.
The strange shadow-thorns were everywhere, and like striking snakes, they surged as one toward Arial. The boy turned, face pale, eyes wide with terror as he desperately reached for the two older mutants.
"Help me!" he cried.
As one, they flung their hands toward him, straining against the wind to reach him. But they didn't even brush his fingertips before the thorns engulfed Arial and dragged him into the sea, and a high, mocking laugh rang in their ears.
Xavier woke with a wordless shout, drenched in sweat, sitting upright, his arm outstretched. He was shaking, breathing hard, his heart hammering behind his ribcage, and it was only after blinking several times that he realized he was in his room at the Institute, still in bed and wearing his robe. Pressing a hand to his heart, he slumped back against his pillows, slowing his breathing to a normal pace and shutting his eyes. The door to his room burst open a few seconds later.
"What's wrong, Charles?"
"We heard you scream!"
He opened his eyes again to see an edgy Logan and worried Ororo.
"My friends…" he exhaled hoarsely, "I'm sorry I frightened you."
"What happened?" Ororo asked, walking to the side of his bed, spreading her hands. "We were in the kitchen with Katy and Jubilee when we heard you."
"Nothing…" he answered, refusing to meet her eyes. "Just a nightmare."
"Charles, for as long as I've known you, there's no such thing as 'just a nightmare' where you're concerned." Logan growled, crossing his arms, eyes flinty.
"I know." he whispered, "But I do not want any of the children to be alarmed."
The other two exchanged a quick glance before nodding to him.
"Point taken. So are you going to tell us what it was about?"
He frowned, almost tempted to say no. The less anyone knew, the less panic and worry would come out of it. But he had known both Logan and Ororo too long to be deluded into believing that he could simply refuse and they would let the matter lie. He sighed and bowed his head, shutting his eyes.
"Yes," he answered quietly, "But you're not going to like it."