My thanks for all the reviews, this is the last chapter, hope you enjoy.
Professor X slowly became aware of the return of feeling. Except feeling was not truly the right word. It was more a deep psychic connection with his artificial body. As the connection took hold, he began to move again, regarding the odd combination of figures surrounding him: Wolverine, Storm, Moira, Banshee, Beast and Havok. "Well, this is quite a welcome back to the land of the living,"he commented.
Storm hugged him, even though he couldn't feel it. "It's good to have you back, Professor,"she said quietly.
"Well, I'm not sure about that, I don't seem to have been missed that much. It seems once more I must congratulate you. And young Bobby. He certainly provided himself as a field leader. Even if he is notably absent from my homecoming."
"Him and Rogue have the bub to look after,"Wolverine noted.
"Ah yes, of course. Well, I'm not used to having students quite that young in my school but that one is most welcome. And I also owe my thanks to you, Henry, for the sterling work you did in restoring me."
Beast shrugged modestly. "A simple case of rewiring. It scarcely requires much competence."
"And my thanks to you, Moira, for making sure we got through these troubles. How are your patients?"
"See for yourself,"Moira suggested, nodding towards a nearby bed.
Colossus and Siryn were sitting on the bed, holding hands. Colossus had reverted to his human form and both of them were recovered from their injuries. They stood up when they saw they had Professor X's attention. "Professor,"Colossus acknowledged.
Xavier waved them down. "There's no need to be so formal."
"I'm afraid there is. You see, Therese and I have made a decision."
"We're going to leave the X-Men,"Siryn explained.
Banshee gave a shrug. "I can't say I'm sorry to hear that."
"It's not as simple as that, Dad. If you don't mind, Doctor McCoy…we'd like to join X-Factor."
Beast looked at Havok before turning back to the pair. "May I ask why?"
"I'm just sick of doing this without the safety net."
"We don't just do clean up operations,"Havok pointed out. "Being with us will still be dangerous."
"We know,"Colossus agreed. "But you have back up, rules. Blindly rushing in isn't for us anymore."
"Well, we'd be delighted to have you,"Beast acknowledged. "If it's all right with the professor."
"If there's one thing this school stands for,"Xavier replied,"it's freedom of choice. If this is the future you see for yourselves, no-one here will stand in your way."
Wolverine and Storm stood at a window and watched as the X-Factor jet took off in one direction, heading back to their headquarters in Washington, while Moira and Banshee's plane headed off towards Muir Island in another. "Well, that's another two gone,"Wolverine noted.
"The professor's right,"Storm told him. "It's not a competition. Anyway, since when did you get so concerned with keeping this place's attendance levels high."
"Since I found you here."
Storm took his hands and lightly kissed him on the lips. "I guess we've all got to thank this place for a lot." She nodded past him and he turned to see Bobby leading a group in X-Men uniforms towards the lower levels: Kitty, Warren…and Cable and Bishop. "One door opens and another one closes."
"We've really got our work cut out."
Bobby paused outside the Danger Room, Kitty and Warren flanking him, and looked at Cable and Bishop, trying to bring authority to his words. Giving orders to his old classmates had been bad enough, acting as a trainer for two new recruits who both appeared far older than him was taking him way out of his comfort zone. At least they'd managed to persuade Rogue to wait a few weeks before resuming training, although the pain she'd felt when she'd tried to get out of bed would probably have stopped her as well.
He tried to remember the words he'd once heard Beast say to new recruits. "Once you go through this door, you're X-Men,"he explained. "And that's a responsibility. We use our powers to help people. Not people that deserve it, people that need it. Whoever they are. Are you willing to do that?"
"We are,"Cable confirmed.
"This is what we want,"Bishop echoed.
Bobby nodded. "Let's go then." He turned and led them inside.
"You're sweating,"Kitty pointed out quietly.
"Not now, Kitty."
"This could be an interesting session,"Warren observed.
Professor X, Wolverine and Storm had headed to the room that Rogue and Bobby shared. Rogue was sat on top of the covers, nursing Harmony. Xavier had done his best to touch the child as gently as possible and, after a few nervous moments, she seemed to have accepted the feel of his metal hand.
"I feel like I should be making some inspirational speeches about now,"he noted. "But perhaps she's all the inspiration we need."
"She's certainly going to have a big family looking out for her,"Rogue agreed.
"That's not really what I imagined this school as when I set it up. But somehow it's what it's become. The world continues to surprise us."
"You're going to like living here, Harmony,"Storm told the child. "If anyone upsets you, Uncle Logan here will slice them."
"And Auntie Ororo here will fry them,"Wolverine added.
Rogue gave them a mock glare. "You're planning to traumatise her even before she can talk?"
Gambit and Jubilee appeared in the doorway. "You know there's a lot of people out here wanting to welcome our new resident,"Gambit noted.
"And they're not getting a lot of lessons done,"Jubilee added.
Xavier smiled. "Well, in the circumstances I think we can let them in."
Students began filing into the room, eager to share in the happy atmosphere. What Rogue had said was true. To all of them, the mansion no longer felt like a school but a family.