Chapter 9 – Truth and Consequences I
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, or any of the Mythology that I am about to mangle to suit my own twisted purposes. Frankly, if you recognize it, 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: Thanks again to everyone that has reviewed or recommended the story. I've never had this kind of a response to anything I've written before and it's absolutely wonderful. There will be a slight deviation in my update schedule over the holidays though. Chapter 10 will be up on the 23rd or 24th (Saturday or Sunday) and then I'll be be taking a short break over the holidays and will resume with Chapter 11 on or around January 2nd or 3rd. After that I'll try to get back on my regular update schedule of a new chapter every 4-5 days. Enjoy!
-== Chapter Nine – Truth and Consequences I ==-
Xander stood there for a long, silent moment in the wake of his uncle’s question. He could feel all of their eyes on him as he considered what to say, what to tell to them, and what to leave out. He had seriously hoped that he could keep them away from the darker parts of the truth. Things like demons and Wolfram and Hart really didn’t belong in the Kents’ world, but he had definitely changed all that. They needed to know, needed to be prepared for how ugly things could get if he stayed. Not that he really expected them to let him stay at this point, unless he found a way to stop the evil law firm from coming after them.
“That was a demon, Uncle Jonathan,” he explained in a surprisingly calm voice. “Five of them came here to kill us all and destroy the farm because of a grudge with one of my ancestors, a man that died more than a thousand years ago.”
“Thor?” Clark asked, “As in the Norse God, Thor?”
“Yeah, that’s the ancestor I’m talking about,” he confirmed with a nod. He held up the hammer he still held and willed the skies to clear. Almost instantly the black clouds dissipated and the late afternoon sun emerged from the gloom. “This is Mjolnir, the hammer of the Thunder God, Thor. I found it on a beach in Sunnydale a little over a month ago.”
“Xander,” his uncle began skeptically after exchanging a quick glance with Martha, “we want to believe you…but demons? Norse Gods? Magick Hammers? This all sounds just a little…”
“Crazy?” the Aesir offered with a tired grin when his uncle hesitated to say the word. “I know exactly how crazy it sounds, Uncle Jonathan. Why do you think I haven’t told you about it before now?”
“I believe you, Xander,” Clark said standing up and walking toward his cousin. “You didn’t see it, dad. The demons came after him because he has Thor’s powers. He’s as strong as I am, maybe even stronger and he called down lightning to destroy three of the monsters.” Clark paused, looking the Thunder God in the eye. “Plus, the demons claimed that only a true immortal could kill them, and Xander killed all five of them. I hit the one you saw as hard as I could and it got back up without a scratch, but the hammer stopped it.”
“I cheated,” Xander admitted, giving Clark a grateful smile for backing him up, “I’m not a true immortal, but one of my immortal cousins gave me a set of enchanted gauntlets earlier today.” He turned the backs of his hands towards the Kents, showing them the gift Hermes had brought him. “Wearing these I can harm any foe I face, no matter what they might normally be immune to.” He sighed, unsurprised by the still somewhat skeptical looks on Jonathan and Martha’s faces. “Look, there’s a lot more to the story that I should tell you. I don’t know if it’ll help you believe me or just make you think I’m even crazier, but I want you to hear it. All of it.”
With a sigh of his own, Jonathan got to his feet and looked his nephew in the eye as he approached the young man. Hiram Kent had taught his only son many important lessons over the years of their life together: the value of hard work and honesty, the importance of being self-reliant, and that the best way to judge a man wasn’t by his words but his actions. Hiram had always been a good judge of character and imparted that same skill to Jonathan. Xander didn’t flinch away from his gaze. Instead, the teenager met it without hesitation, confirming what Jonathan had been afraid of. He was telling the truth. Life in the Kent household was about to get even more complicated than it already was… and for a man with an alien spaceship hidden in his storm cellar, that was saying something.
Jonathan glanced back at Martha again. She nodded her agreement to him, knowing wordlessly exactly what he was asking. Turning back to Xander, Jonathan swallowed before speaking. “We believe you, Xander,” he said simply. “Let’s go inside and you can tell us that story.”
* * * * *
Chloe stared at the three pictures displayed on her computer screen. One picture was of Mayor Richard Wilkins the First shaking hands with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany before the start of the First World War. The second picture was of Mayor Richard Wilkins Jr. shaking hands with President John F. Kennedy. The last was of Mayor Richard Wilkins III shaking hands with President Bill Clinton. The problem was that all three mayors were clearly the same man, promoting the Wilkins dynasty from a case of possible political corruption to Wall of Weird material.
After her discussion with Xander on the school steps, she’d taken his advice and dug into the political history of Sunnydale. When she’d seen that every mayor the town had ever elected in its almost 100 years as a township was named Richard Wilkins, she’d dug deeper. Now the first hint of the truth was staring her in the face, only she wasn’t quite sure what it meant. How did an apparently un-aging mayor tie into the rest of the weirdness she had uncovered so far?
“What’s the connection?” she wondered aloud.
Frowning, she considered the problem. Xander had specifically mentioned two things: the mayors and the name the original Spanish settlers had given the area. If the mayors served to raise more questions…then maybe the name would be a clue to the answers? Firing up her web browser, she started hitting search engines. After a half hour of searching, cross-referencing and following obscure links, she found her answer.
“Boca Del Infierno,” she read the words off the screen followed by their English translation, “Mouth of Hell.”
The words drove an eerie chill down her spine as they seemed to linger on the air. She stared at the screen for a long, long moment. An apparently immortal mayor, the mouth of Hell, and a long history of exsanguinated corpses...how did they all tie together? She swallowed hard as idea occurred to her. She typed a new word into her browser window: “Vampires”. Even as she began trying to filter out the results of her search, sifting through the large number of hits for reputable sources, she found herself wondering what she had gotten herself into.
* * * * *
Xander hated feeling like he was in the spotlight, but at this point it was a necessary evil. So far he’d regaled his family with the wholly unabridged story of his freshman year at Hellmouth High. He told them everything, from the details of the day he met Buffy Summers up to the part where he revived her after she drowned in the Master’s lair. His aunt, uncle, and cousin had listened without interruption or comment as he laid bare the truth behind why he had failed his first year of high school. When he finally stopped, pausing to collect his thoughts before delving into the events of his summer so far, his uncle spoke up.
“Xander,” he said gently, with a strangely soft smile on his face, “I think I owe you an apology. I jumped to a lot of bad conclusions about you and your friends in Sunnydale when you first told us about your problems at school last year. I assumed the worst of you and your friends and I let that color my opinion of you.” The farmer reached over and put a reassuring had on the youth’s shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he said sincerely. “I was wrong about you and them. I want you to know how proud I am of you. You were willing to give up everything and risk your life to do the right thing. I couldn’t have been any more proud of you if you were my own son.”
Shocked by his uncle’s words, the Aesir glanced from Jonathan to Martha and then on to Clark. The expressions on each of their faces reflected what Jonathan had just told him. He smiled sadly in response, before answering softly, “I appreciate you saying that, Uncle Jonathan, but you might feel differently when you hear the rest of the story. A lot of things have happened since then and there are parts of it that I’m not proud of.”
His uncle squeezed his shoulder, trying to comfort and reassure the obviously conflicted young man. “No matter what happened, I’m sure that you did the best you could in a tough situation.”
“I got my parents killed, Uncle Jonathan,” Xander countered. “Just like I almost got you, Aunt Martha, and Clark killed today.”
“You saved our lives, Xander,” his uncle argued. “You saved us all from those monsters.”
“And they wouldn’t have been here if weren’t for me,” the teen pointed out.
Clark spoke up, breaking into the argument that was building between the two of them, “Maybe you should tell us the rest of the story, Xan, so we know what you’re talking about…”
Xander took a deep breath and began to explain how he had found the hammer and become the Heir of Thor. He told them about Yve and how she had started training him to be a proper warrior and harness his powers. He related everything that had happened, everything he was, everything he had done, right up until the day he left Sunnydale on his way to Smallville. The only detail he chose to omit was Odin’s insistence that he was a God in his own right.
“I don’t know what to say, Xander,” his Aunt Martha admitted when he finished. “You’ve been through so much in the last year…but what happened to your parents wasn’t your fault. You did everything in your power to try and handle this. You couldn’t have known what the Mayor would do.”
“Mom’s right, Xan,” Clark immediately agreed. “There’s no one to blame for your parents’ deaths except for this Jormungandr…”
“That’s not true, son,” Jonathan said a moment later. “There’s plenty of blame to go around. Yve and the other Aesir should never have let you attempt to bargain with him in the first place. You shouldn’t have had to do those things alone, Xander,” he smiled reassuringly at his nephew. “You did everything you could, no one can fault what you did. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but no matter how many special abilities you have, you can’t always save everyone.”
Xander swallowed hard. Everyone seemed convinced that he wasn’t at fault in his parents’ deaths, but some part of him would always feel that he had failed them. “My being here has put you all in danger,” he said, changing the subject. “I’m pretty sure that Wolfram and Hart was behind those demons showing up today.”
“What makes you think that, Xander?” his uncle asked, sounding shocked by the statement.
“Wolfram and Hart has a well-deserved reputation for representing some of the most evil demons in the world. Those demons specifically mentioned that ‘the lawyers’ had told them I was born human and wouldn’t be able to kill them,” he paused to let those facts sink in. “Those creatures weren’t here by coincidence, especially showing up just a few hours after we called the firm’s bluff.”
“Those demons had a grudge of their own though, Xander,” his cousin countered. “Wolfram and Hart might not have had anything to do with them actually being here…”
The Aesir frowned. “That’s a matter of opinion, Clark,” he said with a sigh. “The demons could only have known where I was if someone at Wolfram and Hart gave them that information. Telling someone intent on murder where to find their target is the same as trying to kill them yourself.” He shook his head and sighed. “But the point is that I’m the reason they came here. I’m why they attacked the farm. I should leave, get as far away from here as possible, and take the problems I’ve created with me.”
“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” Martha said immediately. “There has to be another way, something that’ll stop them without forcing you to live on the run.”
A strange thought crossed his mind as the Thunder God considered his aunt’s words. “There just might be a way…” he said thoughtfully. “Uh, I’m going to need to be alone for a while… and I might need to go away for a few hours…or maybe even a bit longer.” The teen hopped up and moved quickly to the door before anyone could react. “I’ll be in the loft, if I’m on the farm at all.”
“Xander!” his uncle called, jolting the Aesir from his thoughts before he could make it out the door. “What are you going to do?”
“Oh…I’m going to go see if I can talk to a couple of my other cousins,” he answered cryptically. “So far none of them have been willing to appear around other mortals.”
“What other cousins?” Jonathan asked puzzled. “Who are you talking about?”
“I’m not entirely sure who all I might need to talk to… Hermes, Ares…maybe even Odin, who’s not actually a cousin so much as a grandfather with 14 centuries worth of greats tacked on…” he answered with an absent frown. “I might have to go to Asgard or Olympus for answers…but I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
Before anyone else could say another word, Xander was out the door and jogging across the yard toward the barn.
* * * * *
Lindsey smiled as he read over the report on the contingency plan’s failure. Most people in his position would be scrambling for some way to ensure that they weren’t about to be terminated with prejudice after such a complete failure. He wasn’t most people though. In his opinion, things couldn’t have gone any better today if he’d sabotaged the plan himself. A part of him actually wished he had, but a move like that would have been far too risky. The Metropolis branch of Wolfram and Hart may have been a smaller pond than Los Angeles, but it was certainly no less shark-infested.
He re-read the report, preparing his responses to the inevitable accusations that his boss would use to try and lay the blame for this debacle off on Lindsey. Somehow, Xander had managed to accomplish something widely thought impossible: he’d slain five true immortal demons despite the fact that he had been born mortal himself. Since the general rule of thumb was that only a true immortal could kill a true immortal… that act carried grave implications for the firm’s plans.
Even Lindsey hadn’t held out much hope for the young Thunder God to survive this encounter. Just one of the demons should have been more than adequate, if Xander hadn’t been a true immortal himself. As it was, five to one odds against beings as powerful as these demons still should have been sufficient to ensure the Aesir’s demise and yet he’d emerged from the battle all but unscathed. There hadn’t even been any collateral damage to speak of, merely the 5 patches of tainted earth where the demons had died. The attorney couldn’t help but be impressed, and the fact that it proved what Lindsey had said all along certainly didn’t hurt. Corrupting Alexander Harris would be well worth the time and effort, no matter how long it took.
They could, after all, afford to take a long view on this particular champion. It would be a fairly long while before the prophecies regarding Thor’s Heir began to come to pass, years if not decades. They had more than enough time to turn the god-ling from his path, especially since he was clearly too powerful to be easily eliminated.
A quick glance at his clock told Lindsey that it was time. The branch CEO had called an emergency meeting of the special projects staff over the ‘Harris situation’. Apparently, the death payment demanded by the demon clan for their five lost warriors was significant enough to demand immediate action. Someone’s head was going to roll over this, probably in a very literal way.
If Lindsey had anything to say about it, that someone would be Joe Morgan, the head of the special projects division in Metropolis. The guy had been almost entirely responsible for the failed plans to deal with the young Aesir. Lindsey had encountered Joe’s younger sister, Lilah, a few times at the L.A. office. She was smart, ambitious, and gave new meaning to the word ‘bitch’. Because of that, he’d expected a hell of a lot more from her big brother Joe. The man’s file showed him to be a competent, if somewhat less than creative, associate. Unfortunately, this was the third major failure of a special project in the past two years. Joe had managed to duck out of the noose both times by arranging other people to take the blame.
When Lindsey strolled into the conference room, he wasn’t surprised to find Joe already there waiting on him. He was sitting comfortably in his chair next to none other than Geoffrey Newman, the CEO of Wolfram and Hart’s Metropolis office, with a smug grin on his face.
“Ah, Lindsey, good,” Geoffrey said with a smile, “could you close the door behind you please.”
Alarms rang out in Lindsey’s head as he pushed the door shut. This wasn’t a staff meeting…it was something far more dangerous. Judging by the self-assured expression on Mr. Morgan’s face, it appeared that Lindsey was about to be sacrificed to save his boss.
The absence of the rest of the special projects staff would severely limit the maneuvering room Lindsey had for slipping out of this trap, any wrong moves now would be the end of more than just his career. Lindsey’s smile never wavered as he took his seat at the table, despite the trepidation he was feeling.
“So, Mr. McDonald?” the CEO said with a friendly smile that reminded Lindsey of a cat stalking its prey. “What happened with the Harris case? Where did it go wrong?”
“Frankly, Mr. Newman, the entire plan was flawed,” he answered bluntly. “The special projects division had decided on this approach before I even arrived from L.A., choosing tactics that were appropriate to coercing a weak-willed teenager not a Warrior-God.”
“Based on the available profiles of the target, his responses should have played in our favor if Mr. McDonald approached the subject as planned and didn’t deviate,” Joe Morgan’s voice was relaxed as he countered Lindsey’s argument. “Unfortunately, Mr. McDonald has a reputation as a bit of a maverick and clearly chose to advance his own agenda ahead of the firm’s.”
“I’ll admit that I protested the plan from day one because Xander Harris has changed radically since he became one of the Old Gods,” Lindsey said coolly. “But despite my reservations, I stuck to the established plan completely. Mr. Harris is extremely perceptive and called our bluff on threatening to take the boys out of the Kents’ care almost immediately,” the younger attorney locked gazes with the CEO, making it clear that he had nothing to hide on this. “Furthermore, the background research on the Kents overlooked the fact that Martha Kent is the daughter of Martin Clark, one of the most successful criminal lawyers in Metropolis. The entire lawsuit angle was compromised as soon as she heard it. So I followed the plan and invoked the contingency scenario.”
“Your protests and the obvious flaws in the plan are well-documented, Lindsey,” Mr. Newman replied with a patient smile. “Joe, why did the contingency plan fail?”
“We believe that someone intervened on Mr. Harris’s behalf,” the other man answered. He seemed suddenly less sure of himself. “An outside party, perhaps another of the Aesir, killed the demons and saved the boy.”
“I disagree,” Lindsey countered. “The Aesir haven’t intervened directly beyond the involvement of the Valkyrie that died in Sunnydale. No Valkyrie could have slain these demons either, only a true immortal could do it.”
“The Olympians then,” Joe argued. “Our seers indicate that Ares, Hermes, and Aphrodite were all in Smallville at various points during the day.”
“Only Ares was present at the time of the battle, and he certainly wouldn’t have risked his own life for Mr. Harris,” the CEO interrupted. “The Senior Partners believe, as do I, that Xander has been purged of his mortal blood and made a true immortal. Such an act is not beyond the powers of Odin, who has been seen to favor the boy per Mr. McDonald’s report on the fallout of the incident in Sunnydale. He faced and slew the five demons on his own.”
Geoffrey fixed Joe Morgan with a cold, merciless stare. “You handled this entire project badly, Joe.” A soft click echoed through the suddenly quiet room and Joe Morgan stiffened. A moment later, he began twitching and convulsing violently as a thin trail of blood began to run from his eyes, nose and mouth. Within seconds, he was dead.
“Such a waste,” Mr. Newman said softly. “I’d had high hopes for him, but he just never seemed to get it. Not all problems can be solved with threats and assassins.” He met Lindsey’s gaze again, “Congratulations, Mr. McDonald. You’re in charge of the Harris case from now on. You’ll be operating independently of the special projects division and answering directly to me.”
“Thank you, Mr. Newman,” he responded immediately, a predatory smile firmly in place.
“Don’t thank me, Lindsey,” the CEO replied darkly. “Thank Joe Morgan’s incompetence. His screw-ups cost the firm dearly in this mess. For the time being, you’re to take no direct actions against the Thunder God or his family. Your job for now is to keep him firmly in our territory. At least here, he can’t do too much damage to the firm’s long term plans.” The man swallowed hard. “He can kill true immortals, Lindsey, and the Senior Partners want him anywhere but knocking on their doors…”