Chapter Three – No going back
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…
-== Chapter Three – No going back ==-
Xander woke slowly the next morning. The bright morning sun was a very effective wake-up call, and had the advantage of not disturbing his parents’ hangovers the way a traditional alarm clock would. He lay still for a long moment as his brain shook off the thick fog of sleep he recalled the strange dream he had of a battle on the beach against a gang of vampires, magic hammers, and Norse mythology.
“Okay,” he said to himself quietly. “You seriously need to cut back on the comic books, Xan.”
With a goofy smile, he rolled over and threw off the thin blanket he’d slept under and got slowly to his feet. He felt good, better then he’d felt since Jesse died. Closing his eyes, he stretched a bit, enjoying the feeling of moving around. He stopped, listening intent for a long moment. Blissful silence reigned in the Harris house, confirming that his parents were still asleep after the previous night’s bender.
Moving quietly, he stepped to his dresser avoiding the floorboards in his room that squeaked. If he was going to manage a shower and something to eat before his Dad woke up and started yelling at him, he needed to move quickly and make as little noise as he could. He gathered up a mostly clean outfit from the piles of clothing on and around his dresser and gave his door a gentle tug to open it.
With a metallic pop, the door knob came off in his hand. He really hated the way everything was falling apart in this house. He fumbled around with it clumsily for a few moments before managing to pop it back in place and get the door open. He crept down the hall into the bathroom without further incident and pushed the door shut behind him. The cold, ceramic floor tiles felt good against his bare feet as he slipped off the boxer shorts he slept in and glanced in the mirror above the bathroom sink. He stopped dead at what he saw there.
Hanging around his neck was a blue metal chain with a hammer pendant hanging from it. Just like the one from his dream. “It was just a dream… wasn’t it?” he asked aloud. He stared intently at the hammer medallion for a long moment before reaching a decision. ‘Only one way to know for sure,’ he thought as slipped the necklace back over his head and set the hammer in his right hand.
Almost instantly the hammer began to glow as it returned to normal size. Unfortunately, Xander hadn’t been prepared for it to actually work and in his shock he failed to grab the hammer. Naturally, the weight of its massive head caused it to tumble off his hand and plummet toward the tile floor.
“Shit!” he exclaimed, grabbing for the falling weapon. Xander knew that if it hit the floor, his parents would literally kill him. With a speed that astounded him, he somehow managed to snag the chain and halt the hammer’s descent a fraction of an inch above the fragile ceramic tiles.
‘Okay,’ he thought a few moments later, as his adrenaline surge began to calm, ‘back to being a necklace please.’ As the hammer glowed and shrank back to necklace size, Xander breathed a sigh of relief. Rather than slip it back over his head, he carefully set the necklace on the metal shelf above his bathroom sink.
Leaning on the sink, he let out a long, slow breath and stared at himself in the mirror. “How on Earth do you deal with this Xander?” he asked himself aloud.
“That is your choice, Alexander,” a familiar female voice said from behind him.
Spinning around, he was less than surprised to find Eve standing behind him just out of view of the mirror. She was dressed exactly as she had been the night before. “What?!” he exclaimed in a harsh whisper, “You can’t be here! If my parents find you…”
“Only you can see me and no one outside of this room can hear either of us right now,” Eve said blandly, before raking her eyes over Xander’s body appreciatively. “You do indeed bear a fair resemblance in body to the thunder god,” she mused with a smile. “You are most attractive, Alexander.”
Her comments brought a blush instantly to his face and upper body as he realized that he was standing naked in front of a very beautiful Valkyrie. He smiled embarrassedly and scooped up a towel which he promptly wrapped around his waist. “What are you doing here, Eve?” he asked, ignoring her commentary on his appearance.
“You asked a question, a very valid question I might add. I came to answer it,” she replied evenly.
“Why? I mean its not that I’m not grateful for the information…” Xander said with a not-quite grin, “but why are you helping me anyway?”
Eve drew herself up proudly. “I was once the shield maiden of the thunder god as he battled against the frost giants. Of all the Valkyries, I am most…intimately familiar with Thor and his powers. Odin charged me to guide you.”
The surreal nature of the situation didn’t escape Xander’s notice. “He sent you to guide me…guide me where?”
“Not to a place, Alexander,” Eve replied with a chuckle. “I’m to ease you through the transition from mortal man to Aesir. To help you find your path in this world.”
“What if I don’t want this? What if I don’t want to be anything but the mortal man I was born? I’m not a hero!” Xander shouted angrily. “I’m not a hero! I’m just a loser kid who couldn’t even pass my freshman year of high school! What makes you think I have any business being one of the Aesir?”
“Xander,” the Valkyrie said softly her voice calm and soothing. “You are not a loser. You saved the Slayer’s life. You defied prophecy by your own force of will. These are not the acts of a coward. You followed a girl you barely knew into a den of vampires to save a friend, that is the act of a hero.”
“Jesse still died,” he said, his anger draining away as she spoke, “some hero I am.”
“The true measure of a hero is not that he succeeds or fails, but that he tries when others would not,” Eve said with a sad smile. “I have spent a dozen mortal lifetimes choosing heroes to carry to the hall of Valhalla, Xander. You would be welcome among them in Odin’s mead-hall.”
“Wouldn’t I have to die a glorious death in battle for that?” he asked with a half-smile.
“A technicality,” the Valkyrie admitted with a grin.
“What if I still don’t want this?”
“This is your destiny, Xander,” she answered sadly. “You are an Aesir now. Nothing on Midgard could change that. You could choose to ignore you powers, to put away the hammer and never wield it against evil, to live your life as if you were naught but a mortal man…but you are not a mortal man. You will not grow old or infirm. You will not die a mortal death.”
“So this must be how Buffy feels,” he groused bitterly. “Forced into a life she didn’t want because of a destiny she couldn’t control.”
“No one ever said destiny was fair, Alexander, and immortality is no picnic. Having to watch your mortal friends and loved ones grow old and perish is painful beyond measure. But you are a divine being now and will only truly lose the ones you love if they die in the service of evil. There is not a single heavenly realm that would deny you visiting your loved ones.” She smiled softly as a grin spread slowly over his face.
“I could see Jesse again?” he asked almost immediately. “For real?”
Eve nodded. “I can show you how… eventually. Such powers are not easy to command and will require time and practice.”
Xander’s face fell. “What if I can’t do it? I’m not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer…”
“That’s where you are wrong,” the Valkyrie said sharply, her face going hard. “And I will not tolerate such self-abasement. You are an Aesir, Alexander. Your mind is capable of grasping fundamental principles of reality that would cause a mere mortal’s brain to liquefy. What you lack is self-confidence and motivation, nothing more.”
Her words stirred something inside of Xander, reviving a dying ember of hope that had nearly been crushed by the words of his father over the years. But as quickly as it came, it fled, buried under the years of being told that he was worse than useless by the only father he’d ever known. “We’ll see,” he said finally, “I should clean-up and get out of here before the drunks downstairs wake up and start screaming.”
“When you are ready, bring Mjolnir to the scrap-yard outside of town,” Eve instructed him, “and we will begin your training.”
Xander nodded, but it turned out to be a useless gesture as Eve had already vanished.