Death Becomes Him
Title: Death Becomes Him
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Genre: BtVS/Incarnations of Immortality Crossover
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things Incarnations of Immortality belong to Piers Anthony, et al.
Distribution: All Moonlit Paths sites. All others need to ask first.
Author’s Note: This is AU for Incarnations of Immortality in the following way – in the books the world seems to know about magic. It is common and everyday. That will –not- be the case in this story.
Note2: Xander-centric crossover fic! WOO!
Notes3: No Tara. Anya is around, but not Xander’s girlfriend. Oz has left Willow and she is dealing, still.
Notes4: If you want me to make this a series you will have to let me know by giving feedback!!!
He woke up that morning with the feeling something was going to happen.
It was the most unusual feeling he could remember having in quite some time, considering nothing really ever happened to him. Sure, things happened around him all the time – fighting, magic, apocalypses. But not to him personally. These were Buffy’s events. Willow’s magics. He was just Mister Ordinary.
Not a bad thing at all, he knew.
But sometimes he wished to he was Xander Harris, superhero extraoridinaire.
Today something would happen, though.
He just knew it.
“We’re going patrolling, Xan – wanna come with?”
The dark haired young man looked up at his friends, smiling goofily. “Miss a night with my two favorite women in the entire world?”
Willow snickered, linking her arm through his. “Yeah, well. New vamp nest somewhere near Old Miss Farris’ mausoleum. You might wanna pass on the spending time with us.”
And there it was.
He tried not to let it hurt – that she would rather he stay home and ‘be safe’ than come with her and Buffy. She only did it because she cared, he told himself. Not because she thought he was a weak little girly-man that couldn’t take care of himself.
Except, that was exactly why she did it. He didn’t have magics to rely on or Slayer strength. He had nothing but his own two hands and normal, average strength to defend himself with. And a stake or two, of course. Sometimes an axe if the girls were feeling particularly sharing with the weapons.
He forced that same goofy smile to stay on his face, biting back the bitter disappointment that he couldn’t have turned out a little less normal, and answered her, “I’ll be fine, Wills. Let’s go have a Slay Party.”
She flashed him a smile, one that was dampened only by that worry in her eyes, and led him out of the house. He could almost feel Buffy shaking her head behind his back, anxious over his safety yet again. He wasn’t a baby, damnit! He could handle himself in a fair fight.
Well, as long as he had something sharp or heavy to tip the odds in his own favor, of course.
The trek through Sunnydale was uneventful. Not a single vampire or demon to be seen, though word on the street from Willow was that they were laying low because of this newest nest of loathesomes. Xander shivered. Why did the word nest conjure images of filthy things creeping about in semi-dark, slinking in the shadows? Was that the visual it was meant to inspire? That suited the vampires, of course. Creatures of the dark. Filthy parasites that feasted on the blood of the living. Nothing more than walking corpses.
The cemetery gates creaked as Buffy pushed them open, the incessant chatter the girls had been engaging in dying off very suddenly. Hard to sneak up on the undead when one was blabbering like a teenager, after all. It was a typical cemetery, as most in Sunnydale were; though larger than the others by a great deal. It was, he remembered idly, the largest of the dozens of burial sites scattered around town. Perfect for an entire coven of bloodsuckers to hide and thrive.
“The mausoleum is in the back,” Buffy hissed, mainly to Willow. “Keep your eyes open for sentries. I want to try to make this as surprising as possible.”
“Right.” Willow nodded, stake in hand.
“Yeah, sure,” Xander echoed, suddenly not all that sure that he should be there. After all – maybe Willow had a point when she asked if he wanted to stay home. It wasn’t as if he could really, truly defend himself. Not like they could, anyway. He could poke the stake around, maybe do some punching and kicking. But when it all came down to it – he was the ‘human’ of the group.
Not much talking was done as they trekked, single file, through headstones and groups of trees, making their way all the way to the very back of the cemetery. Old Miss Farris had been one of the town’s biggest supports about two hundred years ago – or so he had heard once in a local history lecture from Willow. She had done quite a bit on the charity level.
Of course, like every silver lining, there was a dark cloud. Old Miss Farris was a demon – and not the kind that promotes love and lives in harmony. Those charity cases that she wasn’t able to help would become her dinner.
“Yummy,” Xander muttered in response to his own dark thoughts, glaring with what he hoped was force at the mausoleum. It looked so creepy, but kind of innocent, with only the moonlight to see it by. Sort of glow-y white, like a tomb.
It was a tomb.
“So what now?” The whisper sounded impossibly loud in the silence, and the two girls shot looks of ire at him.
“Now we make with the quiet?” Buffy hissed. “I’m going to go in there and scare them out and then you two will –“
“No, not die,” Buffy shook her head. “Don’t joke about things like that, guys.”
“Um, Buff,” Willow murmured, taking one step back from the blonde. “That wasn’t us.”
Buffy spun to face the group of vampires behind her, stake at the ready.
“I guess we don’t have to go looking for her tonight, boys and girls – she came right to us.” The apparent leader of the group smirked, stepping forward. He was the only one to wear his human mask, the others instead showing off the demonic ridges and ghastly glowing eyes.
“You were gonna look for little ole me?” Buffy cooed with a shake of her head. “All you had to do was send an invite – I never miss out on a party.”
Xander sighed, praying to Heaven one last time before the fight broke out in earnest. He scarcely saw the first one of the group move before the action began, vampires swarming everywhere. There couldn’t have been more than eight. Maybe nine. And they weren’t too smart. Willow was holding two off with balls of fire that she lobbed at them with impressive skill. Buffy was tangoing with another three. Which left –
All behind him.
He turned, managing one lucky kick before a punch from one of his attackers sent him flying backwards to a small copse of trees. He slammed into the base of one of their trunks, the breath escaping him in a painful burst.
“Least I didn’t let go of the stake,” he grumbled, gathering his wits and climbing to his feet. The vampires that were watching him moved slowly, as if he was none of their concern. Just a toy to play with. Willow was still fighting a few yards away, Buffy even further than that. Even if they were in a position to help him, they wouldn’t be able to make it on time.
The sound of a stick cracking just behind him made him whirl about, stake poised. He stabbed it forwards without thinking, coming down right where the creature’s heart should have been. It stopped in place, staring down as if surprised. There was a gasp of air from under a midnight black hood and then he fell forward, nearly toppling into Xander as he collapsed onto the ground.
And time itself came to a stand still.
Xander turned, eyes narrowing suspiciously at the old man that was standing behind him, next to one of the frozen-in-place vampires that had wanted to eat and/or kill him only moments before.
“Um – greetings?” He echoed with a shrug, mind not quite made up on whether to be thankful that everything was at a standstill or to seriously wig out over it.
“Well, well. I never would’ve thought it would happen to him. He was so . . . good . . . at his job.” The old man sighed, toeing at the black-cloaked body laying at their feet. “Oh well. What’s done is done.”
“He was your friend?” Xander took a step back. The last thing he wanted was some pissed off old guy coming at him because he killed one of his drinking buddies or something.
“Not really. Co-worker is more like it. We hardly interacted.”
“Oh.” And then. “Why is everyone not moving?”
The old man smiled at him. “Why, I stopped them, of course.”
“You stopped them?”
“Again with the ‘oh’.”
“You are quite fond of that word, it seems.”
Xander shrugged. “Yeah, well – its one of those multi-purpose expressions, you know.”
“As you say. We do need to get on with things, however. Please remove his robe and all other items, including jewelry, that you find on him.”
“UGH!” The dark haired young man shook his head, backing up another step. “I think you’ve got the wrong person, here, buddy. I’m sorry for killing Mister Tall-Dark-and-Sinister here, but he shouldn’t have snuck on me. There is no way in hell I’m robbing a dead guy, too.”
The old man merely smiled and shook his head. “Those are not his things. They belong to his office. His job, if you will. A job that you must now assume since you are the one to have slain him.”
“Office?” Xander repeated. “Job? I don’t want his job, man. I have my own.”
“You have no choice.”
“And here we go with the repeating again. Look, young man, its like this. You killed him. You are now the bearer of his office. The only way that someone else can take that office from you is to kill you. So – unless you want to die tonight – go on and take his things.”
“Just do it!”
Xander frowned. This was –way- too much. He could still see Willow, frozen in time, over the old man’s shoulder. She had a fireball poised in her hand, ready to throw at any moment, and a look of concentration on her face.
“Look –“ He sighed, kneeling down next to the body. “What job did this guy do that’s so important?”
Xander was hardly prepared for the mirthful laughter that sprang from his companion’s lips. It shocked him, though not nearly so much as the next words out of the man’s mouth –
“He was Death, of course.”