Chapter Twelve – Desperate Measures
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, or any of the Norse Mythology that I am about to mangle to suit my own twisted purposes. Frankly, if you recognize, I don’t own it. This work may not be sold or used for profit in any way shape or form for that very reason. Please don’t sue me because I don’t have anything worth taking…
Author’s Note: The Viking prayer used in this chapter is taken from the 13th Warrior which is a movie adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead. Personally, I preferred the book, but the movie wasn’t bad either.
-== Chapter Twelve – Desperate Measures ==-
The scene seemed surreal to Xander as he leapt through the gaping hole in the external wall and into the burning interior of the house. “Mom! Dad!” he shouted desperately.
‘Oh God,’ he prayed silently, ‘please let them be okay…’
The smoke stung his eyes and the heat from the fire quickly dried the water from his skin and remaining clothes as he searched the house for some sign of life, yelling for his parents as he went. As he entered the kitchen, the ceiling gave way, dropping a large chunk of burning debris on Xander, who merely batted it away with his hand as though it were nothing.
As he fought his way through the rapidly collapsing structure, he began to hope that somehow, they had gotten out. They had fled before the giant arrived or had escaped the fire unnoticed by the monster. His hopes soared as he found the front door ajar in the living room, but before he could get out the house shook violently and collapsed, burying Xander under tons of burning rubble.
Trapped momentarily beneath the remains of his family’s home, a rank smell filled his nostrils. The smell of burning flesh and hair. His stomach churned as he realized that at least one of his parents hadn’t escaped. With a wordless cry of pain and rage, Xander shoved at the material that had collapsed around him. Emerging from the mass of fiery rubble, he was confronted with the badly burned and barely recognizable remains of Anthony and Jessica Harris. They had been in their bedroom, directly over the living room, when they succumbed to either the smoke or the flames.
‘They’re dead,’ his mind informed him, even as he grabbed hold of them, leaving Mjolnir amidst the rubble to drag them free of the fire. A million conflicting thoughts and feelings exploded in his head all at once. Rage, pain, anger, guilt, relief, fear and loss all spun into a great whirlwind of anguish: a screaming, burning, all-consuming need for vengeance.
Leaving the bodies clear of the disaster, Xander turned with a renewed sense of purpose toward the giant that had slain his parents. Thunder rolled about them as his hate and anger latched onto a power inside of him that he hadn’t even known was there. The wind picked up and the rain increased, the shower becoming a storm once more. With a scream of rage, Xander ran forward, leaping at the fire giant. His fist smashed into the giant’s face with all of the might of an enraged God.
The flames that enveloped the creature lapped at Xander’s flesh, searing and scorching his body as he rode the falling creature to the ground, hitting it over and over, ignoring his own pain. Blisters rose on his hands, arms, chest and face where the magical fire attacked his flesh. Bone cracked and flesh tore under the force of his blows as he pummeled the giant in a murderous rage of his own.
They struck the ground with an earth shaking force that dislodged Xander from his perch, spilling him into the mud. As he sprang back to his feet, he called Mjolnir back to his hand and raised it above his head in both hands. He saw fear in the giant’s all too human looking eyes for a brief, eternal moment as he brought the hammer down on the monster’s head with all of his might.
A sickening, crunching sound resounded like the crack of a thunderclap as the creature’s head caved in under the force of the blow, spraying blood and brain matter all over Xander. A strangely satisfied feeling settled into his gut as the giant’s massive form spasmed in its death throes, its mantle of flames quickly expiring under the onslaught of the driving rain.
The cool water quickly washed away the blood and gray matter that clung to his skin and soothed the pain of the already healing burns he’d sustained. “I can kill giants,” he said aloud a long minute later. Just speaking those simple words aloud somehow brought back the pain of his loss and Xander sank to his knees next to the giant’s corpse, the hammer falling from his hand with a thud.
A gasping cough from near the wreckage of the house caught his attention, tearing his eyes away from the rapidly dissolving body of his dead foe. Glancing toward it, he gasped, leaping to his feet and rushing over. Eve was lying there, bloody, battered, and severely burned. “Eve!” he shouted. “Oh God, what happened?”
“I was…too slow,” she coughed. “The fiend managed to grab me. I wasn’t strong enough to escape his grasp.”
“You’re going to be okay!” his voice was thin, knowing the words for a lie even as he said them. “I need to get help for you…”
“No one can save me, Xander,” she said feebly. “My time is done. Do not blame yourself for what has come to pass, Thunderer. ‘Twas Jormungandr’s fault and his alone…when the time comes, you will make him pay for these crimes.”
“I will, Yve,” he said solemnly, calling her by her Norse name. “I swear it on Mjolnir, I will avenge this!”
The Valkyrie closed her eyes and breathed out a final rattling gasp before she vanished, her body fading away to nothing in the blink of an eye. Xander closed his eyes, clamping down on the pain he felt, pushing it away. ‘There will be time for grief later,’ he thought, willing Mjolnir back into his hand. As the cool, leather-wrapped metal of the hammer’s haft appeared in his hand once more, the young man forced himself up to his feet. An idea formed in his mind, a realization that finally became conscious.
“Odin!” he shouted, pouring his pain into his actions. “All-father! I have need of your wisdom! Your counsel! Hear me and grant succor to your wayward son!”
A powerful burst of energy surged through Mjolnir as a bolt of lightning struck it, blinding Xander and forcing him to shut his eyes against the wash of luminance. There was a strange sense of rushing air and a wave of dizzy disorientation overcame him. Suddenly the smell of roasting boar and beer filled the air, the rain stopping instantly. A strange hush fell around him, as of hundreds of voices given to low mutterings and half-formed words.
Opening his eyes, Xander found himself standing in a Viking mead-hall, surrounded by warriors who were feasting and drinking. Or at least they were before he had appeared in their midst. Now they were staring at him in shocked awe.
A powerful voice spoke behind him. “Greetings Xander Thorson!” it proclaimed loudly. “And welcome to Valaskjalf, the mead-hall of Odin in the golden city of Asgard!”
He turned quickly and was confronted by the form of a large, powerful, one-eyed Viking warrior holding a golden spear. Instantly, Xander sank to one knee and bowed his head, before speaking. “All hail Odin the All-father,” he said formally, praying that he wasn’t about to offend the most powerful God of the Norse Pantheon.
“Stand, Xander, God of Thunder and know that I am well pleased with you,” the All-father replied proudly.
“I am no God,” Xander began to protest as he stood.
“Oh but you are,” Odin countered, “The mortal world will draw no distinction between you and Thor Odinson, the first God of Thunder amongst the Aesir. And that, too, pleases me… but that will come in its own time. What need have you of me, child?”
“All-father,” he began, bowing his head again, “I ask you to lift your curse from Jormungandr Lokison and to grant me the power to slay him for the wrongs he has committed.”
“What wrongs has he committed against you?” Odin asked in a compassionate voice.
“His servants slew my parents, Anthony and Jessica Harris, and they slew Yve, your Valkyrie and my mentor…” Xander declared loudly.
“And you slew his servant in return,” Odin stated calmly. “The laws of Asgard are very clear. Justice has been done. The crimes of the servant may not be visited on the master, each of us may only be judged for our own actions. I cannot interfere in this.”
A cold disappointment crept into his gut. “So long as Jormungandr lives he will seek to break the curse. And he will use his servants to try and force me out of Sunnydale, killing or injuring my loved ones to hurt me,” Xander said calmly. “Please, help me to protect them at least.”
“What will you offer in exchange for such protection?” the All-father asked gently, “It cannot come from any save Jormungandr and he will not give it freely.”
“Whatever I must,” he declared finally after a moment’s consideration.
Odin nodded and waved his hand, summoning Jormungandr in a flash of light and clap of thunder. The man known as Richard Wilkins looked around, clearly startled by the sudden change of scenery before he plastered on his customary smile. “Odin, Alexander,” he greeted with forced cheerfulness. “What a surprise.”
“What are your terms, Jormungandr?” Odin demanded without preface, “What is it you desire of the Thunder God?”
“A slow and agonizing death at my hand,” he replied with a smile. “But since I can’t have that until your curse is broken… I’ll settle for him leaving Sunnydale and not returning until the day I break the curse.”
The All-father nodded. “For this, you will guarantee that no harm shall come to his friends and family in Sunnydale. You will not act against them in any way, nor through any action or inaction will you allow them to come to harm.”
Jormungandr leveled a glare that could have killed at Xander, who wisely held his tongue. “You ask too much, one of his friends is the Slayer and the others aid her in sacred duty. I cannot protect them from everything that they will face…”
“Is this so, Xander?” Odin asked for his confirmation. The teen nodded solemnly. “Well then, you will swear to take no actions against his friends and family and their friends and family, directly or indirectly, by your own hands or the hands of others for so long as my curse remains on you?”
Wilkins’ face twisted into a hateful grimace but he nodded curtly.
“In exchange, Xander will be given one fortnight to grieve and set the affairs of his mortal parents in order, which you will expedite in anyway you can,” Odin shot a gleeful smile at the Jormungandr who nodded sharply, “after which time he may not again set foot in Sunnydale until the day you break my curse?”
“Agreed,” Xander said with a smile.
“Agreed,” Loki’s son spat with a grimace.
Odin rapped his spear against the ground like a gavel. “Then so you are bound,” he declared, dismissing the mayor with a wave of his hand that caused him to vanish instantly.
Odin smiled at Xander. “Know this Xander: your mother has passed on to a place worthy of her noble spirit, despite the taint of your father’s influence on her. She bade me remind you of your promise to her. Yve’s spirit sups this night in Freya’s hall, Folkvang. Do not grieve them o’er long.” Odin picked up his great tankard and stood up. Every warrior in his hall did the same. “Honor them with us, Thunder god,” he instructed.
Xander turned quickly and scooped up a flagon from the nearest table lifting it high as the entire hall began to speak in unison:
Lo, there do I see my father,
Lo there do I see my mother, and my sister and my brothers,
Lo there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning,
Lo they do call to me,
They bid me to take my place among them,
In the halls of Valhalla,
Where the brave may live,
“All hail the valiant dead!” Someone shouted from within the hall before it was echoed by the entire assembly. To a man, every warrior in the hall drained their vessels in salute.