Chapter Eight – The First of Many
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 Eight – The First of Many ==-
It was a cloudy and overcast Tuesday as Xander strolled down to the Espresso Pump in search of a large mocha and a quiet place to read. The streets were bustling with the usual array of mid-morning, pre-lunch traffic despite the severe storm that had rocked the town the night before. According to the morning news, it had been the worst storm on record for the past few decades, having knocked out power-lines and telephone service for the entire town for several hours.
It hadn’t entirely been Xander’s fault though.
He had spent most of the two weeks of his training learning to control his strength. It had taken that long to get to the point where he could properly, consistently, restrain himself. At least now he didn’t accidentally destroy fragile things just because he forgot how strong he was anymore. And the simple fact was that pretty much everything was fragile compared to Xander’s strength. Eve had also begun teaching him proper unarmed combat techniques, focusing on how to keep his strength in check in the heat of battle. He had learned these things with remarkable speed, showing an innate tendency to hold back and use only as much of his power as necessary to accomplish his goals.
Yesterday, he and Eve had finally begun working on tapping into his control over the weather through Mjolnir. What they hadn’t realized beforehand was that someone, or something, was already exerting a very powerful control over the weather in Sunnydale. So, when they encountered a strong resistance to his powers, they reacted in true Norse fashion: they fought against it. After several long and strenuous hours of focusing, Xander had finally smashed his way through the resistance… and in the process sparked off the storm.
Needless to say that he’d then spent considerable effort trying to rein in what he’d unleashed, and had at least managed to prevent it from turning into a full-blown hurricane. Afterwards, Eve had assured him that only another weather God, or possibly a very powerful sorcerer, should have been able to interfere with his powers that way. She had also explained that no mere mortal would be able to interfere in his control over the weather once his full powers developed.
Of course, his powers were nowhere near completely developed yet. Without the hammer any manipulation of the weather was still way beyond his abilities. That ability, like so many of the other powers of the Aesir, would develop in its own good time. Apparently, the Aesir were not entirely unlike humans in terms of how and when they matured, there was no way of knowing when his gifts would begin to manifest, or what order they would appear in. They weren’t even entirely sure that they knew all of the abilities he would develop as few of the Aesir ever tapped into all of the powers they had.
Aside from his physical gifts, Xander had acquired only one other ability, something that all of the Aesir were practically born with: perfect recall. Strangely enough, Willow had spent years trying to convince him that he wasn’t as stupid as his father said he was, but Xander had never really believed her. Now he finally knew that she hadn’t been wrong. Everything that he had ever learned was right there in his head, just waiting for him to use it. It wasn’t just the perfect memory though. It was like Xander was finally seeing the world around him clearly for the very first time. His mind was making connections and grasping concepts on an almost intuitive level, something that had never happened before.
As such, he had added daily trips to the public library to his training regime. He spent hours at a time just reading everything that he could put his hands on. Surprisingly, it had been a decision that Eve had not only supported, but actively encouraged. “An agile mind is the most powerful weapon in any warrior’s arsenal,” she had said when he questioned her about it. “There is no knowledge that is without value under the right circumstances.”
He’d been at a loss at first, confronted with an entire library and not even the vaguest idea of where to begin. So he had started small, reading books on martial arts and fighting techniques since that was what he working on with Eve at the time. From there he moved on to other things: science, nature, the occult. He would just wander the stacks and read any book that caught his eye. As he read more and more, he began to read faster, unconsciously switching from reading a single word at a time, to an entire line, and finally to an entire page. Now, he could consume the contents of a book as quickly as he could turn the pages if he wanted to.
Today, however, he paid for his mocha and settled at a table near the door with a bit of pleasure reading that he meant to take at a more leisurely pace. Eve had departed to Asgard to seek the wisdom of Odin and Baldur after the revelations that came in the wake of last night’s storm and had told Xander to relax and enjoy the day. Since it was Xander’s first day off from training since they had started, he had every intention of taking advantage of it. His only plan beyond reading the Fellowship of the Ring was to check in with Giles some time after lunch. After all, the presence of either another weather God or a powerful magician in Sunnydale was probably something the Watcher needed to know.
His mocha was long gone and Frodo and Sam were just leaving the shire when a pleasant sounding male voice startled Xander. “So you’re the one,” it said calmly from behind him. “I’ve gotta say I’m a bit surprised. You’re not at all what I expected.”
Xander looked up as a smiling man stepped around in front of him. He seemed somehow familiar, but who he was escaped the younger man. And that disturbed him deeply given how good his memory had recently become. “I’m sorry,” he said finally, keeping his voice very polite, “Do I know you?”
The man extended his hand to Xander with a smile that seemed suddenly snake-like. “Richard Wilkins the third,” the man said by way of introduction. “Mayor of Sunnydale.”
Xander smiled back, despite an immediate and growing sense of unease. “Xander Harris,” he said in response, shaking the man’s hand. “And pardon me for asking, but I’m ‘the one’ what exactly, sir?” He kept his voice carefully neutral and free of suspicion.
“Last night,” the mayor said simply, “that was you, wasn’t it? Messing with forces you shouldn’t have been tampering with… Do you mind if I sit down?” Without waiting for a response, he pulled out a chair and sat down across the table from Xander.
‘So, the mayor of Sunnydale is the sorcerer who was manipulating the weather,’ Xander realized, immediately making the now obvious connection.
“You’ve got some real potential there, Mr. Harris,” Wilkins commented, the smile on his face no longer quite reaching his eyes. “I keep things around Sunnydale on a pretty tight leash and yet you still managed to make a pretty spectacular mess of things last night.”
Xander nodded, choosing his words carefully, “I was pretty surprised myself. I wasn’t aware that there was anyone else around with that kind of power. It took real effort to break your hold.”
“See, that’s what I don’t get, Mr. Harris,” the mayor went on. “I did some checking on you this morning and up until you met Ms. Summers last year, you were nobody. Just another high school kid destined for a mediocre life.” He frowned at Xander, “Below average grades, no real motivation, bad home-life, you might as well have had second generation loser tattooed on your forehead.”
Xander raised an eyebrow and stiffened slightly in his seat, clamping down on the emotions that the sorcerer’s words were stirring up in him. “Then, just a couple weeks ago everything about you changes. You force that worthless excuse for a good vampire, Angel, into the tunnels under Sunnydale to find Ms. Summers. You manage to revive a dead Slayer with mouth to mouth, something that’s never happened in all of recorded history by the way,” he shot an almost genuine grin at Xander before continuing, “and then you’re left alone by your friends for the summer. Except that instead of moping around like the loser you used to be, you start spending time in the library. A lot of time in the library, actually, and now you’re suddenly dealing in forces so far beyond you that you can’t begin to imagine the consequences.”
Xander met his gaze without flinching, and grinned as the mayor’s face tightened almost imperceptibly at his lack of fear. “And it’s not even like you’ve sold your soul for the power you were using either, since I can tell you still have that. So, why don’t you explain to me just how you were able to do that last night, Mr. Harris?”
“Why don’t you answer a question for me first, Dick? You don’t mind if I call you Dick, do you?” Xander replied with a tight grin of his own. “You see, what you were doing, the level of control you were exerting, it was pretty impressive. Right up there in the category usually reserved for Gods. So what’s really bugging me about this, is why? Why would you go to all that trouble just to keep me from calling a storm?”
The mayor’s grin turned a bit more dangerous, “Very little happens in Sunnydale that I don’t know about, Mr. Harris. I don’t get surprised very often and I really don’t like it when I do. It took me longer than you can comprehend to get where I am today and I’m not about to let some young upstart think they can challenge me.”
“So it was about control then? It was just about teaching me who’s in charge around here?” The younger man asked not having to feign the surprise in his voice. “I think you might’ve missed the mark on that one, because the only thing you taught me is that I can push through your interference.”
“And that’s why I’m here talking to you. You see, I want to know how you did it. What gave you the power to overcome my spell?” His smile slipped as he spoke. “What makes you so special?”
‘Okay, Xan,’ the teenager thought to himself. ‘You’ve got to play this cool. If this guy can interfere with Mjolnir’s power, then he’s got mojo enough to kill you if you piss him off too much.’
Xander forced his face to remain neutral despite the fact that he was playing such a dangerous game. “I don’t think so, Dick,” he said coolly, suppressing a grin at the flicker of annoyance that passed over Wilkins’ face. He stood up and regarded the mayor with a critical look, “I think I’ll keep that little secret to myself, I hope you don’t mind.”
“You’ve got a lot to learn yet, Mr. Harris,” he said, the smile returning to his face. “It’d be a shame if something bad happened to you before you could figure those things out. Think about that for a while, then come and see me when you’ve reconsidered.”
Xander turned and walked away calmly, despite the fact that he could practically feel the mayor’s eyes boring into his back. The man, if you could still call him a man, was dangerous and powerful, Xander didn’t doubt that in the least. The real question was, what was he really up to?
He could only hope that maybe Giles or Eve would be able to help him figure that out before it was too late.