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Summary: Witchblade/Tomb Raider comic/Spawn/Original/Buffy crossovers. AU Faith is running from her father, Willow and Cordy are together, Xander has a dark secret, while Buffy has to deal with her family just as much as she deals with her problems as the Slayer.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > GeneralEvilguyFR18326,512074,02317 Nov 0617 Nov 06Yes



Chapter 3            Revelations


            The quiet after Xander returned too normal was appropriate for the setting, given they were in a cemetery.  The quiet didn’t last long as even this strange new twist to their lives atop the Hellmouth didn’t distract Willow from what was really important for more than the time that it had existed.

            The moment of quiet passed, and Willow rushed forward to check on the fallen Slayer, crying out, “Buffy!”

            This seemed to snap the others into attention and Xander rushed forward with Willow, while Cordy and Faith took up guard positions, ready to deal with anything that showed up.  Cordy felt a slight twinge of worry as Xander and Willow both knelt over their friend, but she had never ever felt anything so much as a twitch of anything but complete and utter trust around Xander.  Faith felt the same twinge, but a flash of insight, of trust, from the Witchblade calmed her the same that Cordy’s instincts did for her.

            She didn’t know why, but the Witchblade, guided by some force beyond her, or her mother’s, comprehension, wanted her with these people.  Not necessarily one above the other, but it had almost forced her into their midst.  Her own, private instincts that had served her as well as they could over her lifetime, however, were telling her the same thing.

            This Xander, whatever he was, was willing to do whatever it took to protect his friends.  No matter what it seemed.  He was loyalty incarnate, and she couldn’t help but respect that.

            A memory came to her, perhaps brought forth by the Witchblade, perhaps just summoned by the experience, but she remembered hearing her mother once speak of a creature or person with the same, or maybe just similar abilities as the ones Xander had just displayed.  She thought back, and she remembered her mother saying that the person had once been an assassin for the CIA.  Then he died on a mission several years ago.  Now…she had called him Spawn then.  Faith couldn’t remember any more.

            Willow was beyond panic at this moment.  She was doing everything in her power to make sure her best friend, her best and first real female friend, was going to live through the next few minutes.  She’d work on the rest of the night and beyond that as it came.

            What Xander had done, and revealed to them was pushed to the back of her mind at the moment, but a portion of her mind was still thinking on it, trying to figure out what had happened exactly.  Yet personal or supernatural problems aside, she was completely focused on Buffy at this moment.

            Xander was likewise suppressing what he’d just done.

            He had no regrets.  He wasn’t exactly proud of what he’d done, but he wasn’t about to be ashamed of it either.  And like Willow, most of his thoughts were focusing themselves on Buffy right now.  But not for the same reasons.

            The Slayer was something else all right.  Even now as he watched her aura, she was healing and repairing herself.  Willow’s healing spell had helped a great deal as he noticed that Buffy was pretty low on the energy needed to fully heal herself, but he was also sure she was going to be fine.

            What was troubling him though…was that it wasn’t happening.  Almost every time she defeated a vampire, or a demon, Buffy’s aura, her strength, increased.  Maybe not the same each time and sometimes not even enough to be easily noticed, but increase it always did.  Right now…her strength was lower than he’d ever seen it, and it was not increasing.  In fact, as her energy levels lowered, her strength did as well.  He couldn’t understand it.

            “Willow, you have to do something,” Xander urged his best friend.  “Her strength is pretty low, but coupled with healing the damage, it’s dropping like a stone.  She doesn’t just need healing, she needs energy!”

            “I know that!” Willow snapped at him.  “But I’m doing all I can.  Why don’t we just give her some of yours?  You seem to have enough,” she sarcastically commented.

            Xander immediately shook his head, looking at Buffy the entire time.  “Incompatible.  Even if we just transferred her wounds from me, part of our energies would mix.  The effects would be like poisoning each other.  Our strengths are just too dissimilar.”

            The Sunnydale natives suddenly stopped and looked up at each other.  Knowing that the other had the same idea, they turned as one and called out, “Faith!”

            “What?” the bearer of the Witchblade cried in alarm, afraid something was wrong with Buffy.

            “We need your strength,” Xander told her.

            Faith squinted her eyes in mistrust, but Willow’s next words calmed her down and convinced her at the same time.  “Buffy is healing properly, but she doesn’t have the energy to keep healing at the rate she is…and if she doesn’t keep up healing…she’ll die.  We need to give her a boost, sort of like jump-starting a car.  And you’re the only other Slayer here.”

            Faith quickly realized what they needed, but she had no clue about how they wanted to do it.  “So…what do I do?” she asked, at a complete loss.

            “Don’t worry, but first,” Willow told her, pulling her armored form down on the ground closer to Buffy, “I need your consent to work magic on you.  Part of the way my powers work as well as a karmic rule.  What I’m going to do is move a portion of your life energy to Buffy.  Afterwards you’ll feel like you could sleep for a year, but I promise it’ll be replenished by morning after you eat and sleep some yourself.  Xander, help Cordelia guard us, just in case.  And don’t for a second think you’re out of trouble mister.”

            Xander gave her a lopsided smirk.  “I’ve been in way worse situations than revealing a lie I’ve kept to my friends and everyone around me for six years.”

            Willow looked momentarily startled, but she quickly refocused her attention and energies on Buffy and Faith.  It was surprisingly more difficult than she had first imagined.

            From her books, dreams, and tutoring from the Chase family, Willow knew precisely what to do, what spells to cast, and how to handle everything.  But this was the first time she had ever transferred energy from people that were not herself and Cordelia.  The temptation to bring the energy to herself was almost completely non-existent.  This was a matter of saving someone’s life.  Someone close to her.  Only the potency of the Slayer energy taken from Faith held the temptation and she knew that like it would have been had it been Xander, that energy would have poisoned her soul.  Just not in the fashion of death, but more karmic poisoning.

            A green aura surrounded Willow while a blue-hued bubble, marked by a circular line on the ground around them, formed as the witch held her hands over Buffy’s body.  At first, a thin, fine gold line of energy trickled between Faith and Buffy, connecting the two Slayers.  Quickly however, the thread became a stream of light so bright that all but Willow had to shield their eyes.

            Faith began to feel the exhaustion Willow was talking about and began to fear that the witch would take too much.  Before it got to that point though, the stream became a trickle once more, and Buffy was looking a great deal healthier, while Faith was feeling every bruise from the battle and like Willow said, could sleep for a year.  Maybe two.

            Willow closed the spell and the colored lights all around them disappeared completely.  Faith sunk to the ground.  The danger passed, and Faith without even enough energy to stand on her own, the Witchblade quickly receded into itself, leaving Faith wearing nothing but her shoes and a modicum of shreds that had once been the rest of her clothing.

            Buffy now seemed to be in a meditative trance, so Willow looked up to check on Faith’s condition, and immediately blushed bright scarlet at the sight of the second most perfect nude female form she had ever seen.  Due to bias, Cordelia, her girlfriend, would always have the most perfect body she had ever seen.

            Xander immediately rushed forward and handed Faith his jacket, which would reach to midway on her thighs, while trying to look anywhere but at the nude Slayer and still be able to give her the offered clothing.  Faith took it after several moments’ hesitation, but seemed to lack the energy to do anything with it.

            Cordy came to the rescue and helped the Slayer move her body into the sleeves and even fasten the coat together.  Of course she was still in her beast form, her own clothes almost as shredded as Faith’s.

            “Cordy?  Go see if you can find your skirt for Faith to also wear,” Willow asked, and the familiar chuffed once in agreement before taking off to look.

            “Xander,” Willow stated once Cordy was mostly out of earshot.

            “Yeah Wills?” Xander replied quietly, looking out into the night, giving Faith privacy while still guarding them.

            “You have a lot of explaining to do.  Now go get Giles and Lara.  I don’t care how you do it, but do it as fast as you possibly can.  We have to get Buffy and Faith out of here as soon as possible.” Willow told him.

            “All right.  We’ll be back in under ten minutes,” Xander calmly told her before he suddenly jumped and leaped up into the night sky.  Willow and Faith quickly lost track of him.  Cordy soon returned with a half-torn, but still wearable, silk skirt.  With both of theirs help, Faith managed to get the garment on and then with Buffy riding on Cordy’s back and both Willow and Faith leaning on her to keep the unconscious Slayer there, and also because they needed the support themselves, they managed to get to the cemetery entrance by the time that Giles, Lara, and Xander showed up in a large black and silver jeep, obviously belonging to Lara.

            In short order, the injured/exhausted were loaded first and after a quick explanation to the Tomb Raider, they all clambered in the jeep and went back to the Library.  Or at least that was where they started to head to until Buffy awoke suddenly.

            “No!” she cried suddenly.  She jumped awake and forward into the front seat and almost drove them off the road.  Lara slammed on the brakes instead.

            “Buffy!” Willow cried, trying to calm the distraught Slayer.  “It’s all right.  We’re safe.  Kakistos, the vampire, it’s dead.”

            “No, I know that already Wills, but we can’t go to the Library right now,” Buffy replied, sounding more lucid than she had a right to be.  “We go to my house.  Please.  There is too much that has to be discussed right now to do it anywhere else, and the Library, despite being on school grounds, is a public place.  My house is neutral territory and it’s a private residence.  Please.”

            It was shortly debated, and then Giles began giving his niece the directions to the Summers’ house on Revello Dr.


<<<<<<<<<< *           *            * >>>>>>>>>>


            Joyce knew the moment that Dawn left the house.  She also knew the moment her youngest had returned.  She also knew that it was always a bad sign when her eldest and first born showed up just over ten minutes later, being helped by all of her friends, and two people Joyce had never laid eyes on before.

            She’d heard about Faith, the other Slayer after Kendra’s death, and about Giles’ niece Lady Lara Croft.  What she didn’t expect, or much appreciate was that both Slayers were both near empty on energy levels, and one of them was wearing nothing but a torn silk skirt and Xander’s jacket.  Oh, and Cordelia was also naked, covered only by a blanket the Tomb Raider had no doubt had in the back of her jeep.

            Once the Slayers were settled on the couch with cocoa in their hands and a concoction she had made them swallow before even sitting down in their stomachs, and everybody else settled down around the living room, most opposite Xander she casually noted, she declared the meeting begin and they got down to business.

            “What happened?” Joyce asked first.

            Giles adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat.  Too late to make it part of the same question, Joyce forestalled him and looked at her daughter and asked, “Buffy?”

            She just shrugged, all of them ignoring Giles’ look of insult, but it quickly passed for him.  “Typical patrol.  We just…let it get out of hand I guess,” she said quietly.

            “How many?” Joyce asked.

            Lara sat back, almost smirking as she watched this.  It was way better than the Telly, and almost as good as getting into the trouble herself.

            Buffy again shrugged, not really looking at anything, though her head tilted down.  “Uh… I’m not really sure…I don’t…”

            “How.  Many?”

            “About 110 plus a master Vampire at least 1000 years old or maybe 2000.” Buffy answered in a rush, sounding strangely soldier like at the same time.

            Joyce’s eyes widened and her breath caught.  As did Giles’, but Lara however, fell completely off her seat and onto the floor.  Possible since she was actually sitting on the arm of Giles’ chair.

            “What did you… why…?” Joyce couldn’t finish the question because she suddenly found it difficult to breath properly and speak at the same time.

            “Well…” Buffy began matter-of-factly, “it was either kill them all tonight, or have a new Big Bad set himself up in town.  One that, incidentally, had a grudge against Faith.”

            “I’m sorry I got you guys involved with…” Faith began, but was quickly interrupted.

            “Nonsense!” Willow snapped.  “We patrol and fight vampires every night.  This is the Hellmouth.  If it hadn’t been that Khaki guy then it would have been something else!”

            “Yeah, and besides, we took care, or should I say Xander took care of that thing without any problems.  And instead of just having another Big Bad gone, we get an extra Slayer as a bonus.” Cordelia added.

            “Xander?” Giles, Joyce, and Lara all exclaimed.

            The young man identified stood up at his name and began to look like he’d just swallowed something really nasty.  He was about to speak when Buffy added her bit to Faith’s defense.

            “Faith, we’re glad you showed up.  Especially I am.  We would have been toast to a very certain degree if you hadn’t been there with us tonight.  Whether you’re the reason they were here or not, you helped us.  So for that much, the helping I mean, thanks.”

            Faith smiled at Buffy and nodded her head, agreeing that she had nothing to feel sorry for.

            “We’ll discuss Watcher chronicles later,” Joyce suddenly interrupted, sounding a might ticked.  She turned and gave Xander the “mother look”, which is a glare 50 times more powerful than Willow’s Resolve Face.

            Gulping heavily and audibly, Xander sat back down.

            “Cordelia said that you were the one to destroy the Master Vampire Xander,” Joyce outlined.  “Is this true?”

            Sweating so badly they could all see it, Xander nodded and answered, “Yes Mrs. Summers, it is.”

            Giles and Lara exchanged a silent communication with a glance, but despite the unusual circumstances, and the completely unbelievable statements, they found themselves believing this account.

            “How?” Joyce asked.

            Xander took a shuddering breath.

            “How?” Joyce asked again, a bit sharper.

            Xander remained silent and steady for about half a minute.

            “How?” Joyce snapped after that half minute.  No response.

            Joyce took a breath and calmed herself some.  “Xander, how did you kill Kakistos?” she asked quietly.  He looked up at her, surprised.  No one had mentioned the vampire’s name.

            “Kakistos?!” Giles startled in shock.

            “Not now Rupert,” Joyce waved the Watcher down from his excitement.  “Xander?”

            “It’s…complicated,” he finally answered.

            “Then uncomplicated it.  Be blunt if you have to.”

            Xander snorted and shook his head at the ceiling, almost as though asking why the heavens were punishing him.  “I transformed into a Hellspawn and tore him apart with my chains.” Xander bluntly announced.

            “Hell spawn?” Lara repeated.

            “How did you become a hellspawn?” Buffy asked calmly.

            Everyone else was in near states of panic at what had been revealed, but that panic turned to confused shock when they all noticed how calm the Summers’ women were at this news.

            Xander shrugged and again gave them a blunt answer, “I killed my family, killed myself, got sent to hell, came back five months later.”

            “I’m going to make us all some ice cream.  Buffy, please make sure that nobody tried to kill Xander, I don’t want that green gunk on my carpet.  Lara, Rupert, would you please help me in the kitchen.  Willow, get Faith and Cordelia dressed.” Joyce stood up the second Xander was done talking.  When everyone hesitated however, she shouted out, “NOW People!”  Everyone sprung into action.


<<<<<<<<<< *           *            * >>>>>>>>>>


            Half an hour later, Faith was in some old clothes of Joyce’s, as she was at least a size larger than everything Buffy currently owned in her closet, while Cordelia borrowed some looser clothes from Buffy, and both Slayers, Familiar, and witch were feeling much better and fully revitalized, if not a bit tired from the late hour.

Everyone was just finishing up their bowls of ice cream, even Lara and Giles had enjoyed some, and the tensions that had been high from the earlier battle and announcements had been greatly eased.

Since Xander was going first, as he joked after the dishes were put away, he might as well finish his turn.  Feeling, or at least looking a good deal more comfortable around his friends, he began to elaborate on his earlier blunt comments.  In short, he told them the long story.

“I’m…human.  But I’m also from Hell,” Xander began.  He particularly watched the Slayers for a reaction.  While Giles was expected to give some bureaucratical Watcher, demon-biased response, he had seen Buffy on occasion be afflicted with the same behavior, and other than her being his friend, he also knew that she could quite possibly destroy him.  Not to mention, after meeting Kendra, he decided that all Slayers had that kind of inbred hatred of demons and evil.

“I guess I better start again,” Xander rubbed the back of his neck and walked until everyone could see him evenly but he could also see all of them without turning around in a circle.  “I was born in 1980.  I met Willow when we were both in Kindergarten, that’s true.  What wasn’t true was my home life.  Ever wonder why I spent so much time at your house when we first met Wills?  Well…just about anywhere was better than home.  Mom…Irene Morgan Harris, was usually drunk all the time, and those times she wasn’t, she was either passed out or letting her husband fuck her.  Or one of her suppliers.”

Xander paused and then snorted with a derisive look on his face before continuing, “Dad who was Irene’s husband and my biological father, was almost the worst that you could imagine.  By the time I was two years old, I was getting regular beatings.  Every holiday.  It didn’t become every week, and then day until I turned 4, and my sister was born.  In case you were wondering, I had two sisters.  I don’t even remember their names.”  Xander stopped for some time, the last admittance having been the start of his tears.

When he had enough control of his voice to continue, with tears still running down his face, “I lost my virginity on my sister’s, my older sister’s 13th birthday.  Oh, and I also got raped by every other man Tony and Irene Harris had invited to the party to help with my sister’s deflowering.  Thankfully my younger sister only got beat, nothing was done to her.”

“By the time I was ten, well, Willow you know how it was for me.  I kept getting into fights at school…just to cover up the ones I was getting at home.” Xander paused, gathering his thoughts.  “My older sister got pregnant by one of Irene’s suppliers.  Tony decided to do an at-home abortion.  He ripped her stomach open and pulled out almost half her guts just to get at the growing fetus.  Funny how that memory stands out so clearly.  Him showing me, his entire arm covered in my sister’s blood, something so small I almost confused it for used chewing gum.  Except that it looked like a baby.  Then he slammed it on the ground at my feet and stepped on it, crushing it beneath his heel.”

“They got her to the hospital.  She lived.”  Xander stopped.  He took a breath and almost seemed to steel himself for something still to come.  Something he still had to say.  He looked at Willow, looked her in the eye, tears pouring down his face.  He wasn’t the only one with water running down his face either.

“Remember…” he cleared his throat, “…remember that year that I didn’t come to school?  I went until the end of September, then I started to get real nervous as Halloween showed up?”

Trembling, Cordelia holding her tightly, Willow let out a choking sob and nodded.

“Halloween was big for them.  Tony anyway.  I don’t know what they were planning.  I might have once, but I don’t really remember.  I do remember that it was getting close to my younger sister’s puberty.  They had her tied, naked, and set her down on some kind of altar.  After that…I only remember red.”

Xander paused again and cleared his throat, his tears slowing.  “Hell can do some seriously twisted things to your mind.  I don’t remember committing the crimes that got me sent to Hell, but I do remember what I was told…when I got there.  First…I broke Irene’s neck.  Then, after raping her one last time, I ripped my older sister apart, with the knife Tony was going to use on my younger sister.  But that was only after I slit my younger sister’s throat, to save her from the torture we had already been through.  Then I killed my father.  Wasn’t easy, and he got me bad enough that if I didn’t get medical treatment within a few hours I would have died anyway.  I didn’t let it get that far.”

“After slaughtering my entire family…I plunged the knife into my own heart and broke my neck by having a sledge hammer fall down on my skull.”  Xander paused, more to let them all absorb the horror of his crimes than for himself.

“But I don’t remember that.  It’s what I found out after I got back from Hell, five months after that Halloween.” Xander straightened himself and wiped his eyes dry.  “In Hell…I agreed to become the 2nd in command of Hell’s Army in the final days.  I made a deal with the devil, just to return to earth.  Not because of anybody, although it was great seeing you again Willow, but because I wanted to punish humanity for what it let happen to me and my sisters.  I came back pretty near the High School, but I was all covered in scars, and I don’t care what any of you say…you don’t know pain until you’re suddenly back on Earth after being in Hell, and all the soothing does is tell you how much pain you’re really in, making it that much worse.”

“I have been dubbed Savage, by one of the Dukes of Hell themselves.  He didn’t tell me his name, although he asked me to call him something like the Violator or something.  I wasn’t really paying attention as I had green balefire pouring out of my eyes as Necroflesh erupted from beneath the scarred remains of my own.  That first night, I became what you all saw earlier.  For a while I was focused on two things.  What happened to me, cause I didn’t remember a thing, and punishing those like Tony.  I started with all of Irene’s old suppliers and everyone that had come to my sister’s 13th birthday.”

“I…I remember reading about that,” Willow finally gained the courage to speak.

Xander nodded.

“I was going on instinct for a long while.  Then a demon introduced himself to me and taught me how to control myself.  He was actually one of the good guys, a demon sent from some divine force to correct some evil and settle the score between good and the bad guys.”

Buffy frowned and raised her hand.  Xander looked at her with a confused look on his face.  “Don’t suppose his name happened to be Whistler, would it?”

Xander blinked in surprise.  “Ugly Hawaiian shirt, tack 70’s clothes, and a really funky hat?”

Buffy smiled and nodded.  “He was the one that set Angel on the path of redemption.  He was also the one to show me how to stop Acathla.”

“Hunh,” Xander grunted.  “Guy must have nothing better to do.”  He shrugged, letting the experience pass for the moment.

“Anyway, he taught me how to use my powers, or more like helped me figure out how to teach myself.  After that, I spent most of my time and energy on healing myself.  By now, almost six years later, I don’t have a scar on me.  And it doesn’t even hurt anymore when I transform into Savage.” Xander finished.

“That…explains so much,” Willow realized.  “After that summer, where you said you stayed with your Uncle Rory, you were so much nicer to everyone.  That was when we met Jesse and…and you never let me sleep over anymore after that.  It was always to my house.  Or Jesse’s, or…anywhere but your home.”

“I don’t have a home Willow,” Xander explained with sympathy in his voice.  “I’ve been living in the sewers for the past six years.  I steal my clothes or buy them from money that I’ve earned doing odd jobs around town.  I sneak into empty apartments or motel rooms occasionally to shower or sleep.  And before you even offer it, hell no.  I am not moving in with any of you.  I’ve lived six years like this, I can spend the rest of eternity like this.”

“What?” Cordelia startled.

Xander shrugged.  “I’m immortal.  Part of the coming back from hell package.  My body is still decomposing somewhere in an unmarked grave.  This is my immortal soul standing before you, just in a semi-living body.  I’m not sure if the necro energy inside of me promotes life or the opposite.”

“Whoa,” Faith had to comment.

“Indeed,” Giles added to that.

Lara, however, was intently studying Xander.  Finally she asked, “I don’t suppose you’ve ever been to New York City Xander?”

Xander smirked at her and shook his head.  “I’ve never left Sunnydale.  But that’s my commander, the General of Hell’s Army.  Spawn.”  He shrugged again, “I’ve heard about him through the grapevine.  The demon grape vine.  I heard he was once some assassin named Simmons.  Don’t know much else.  Does that answer your question?”

Lara nodded, satisfied.  She had worked with Spawn once.  Despite the story, Xander had proved capable, loyal to his friends, and on the side of protecting humanity.  If not the Angels.

“I…I…I…” Cordelia sounded like she was set on a broken record.

“We can’t handle this right now Xander,” Willow said for her.  “So for right now we aren’t going to react.  Because I think, if the looks I’ve been getting from Faith are indication, we have our own story to tell.”

“You’re a natural witch and Cordelia’s your familiar,” Xander answered.

“Uh…yeah,” Willow stuttered.

“Can we…take care of this in the morning?” Cordelia asked.

“I think it would be better to take care of it now Cordelia,” Joyce replied.  Then she sighed and re-sat herself in her seat.  “Now what breed are you?”

Huh?” both witch and familiar shouted at the question.

“What breed?” Joyce repeated, and then she looked at her daughter, “Buffy?”

The blonde Slayer shrugged.  “Seemed to be the Bastet beastial, but I couldn’t be sure since I never got that close to get a better look.”

“How the hell do you know…?” Willow began to ask.

“Willow!” Cordelia snapped suddenly.  At the confused look she hissed, “Language!”

Willow blushed.

“How do you know about familiars Mrs. Summers?” Cordelia asked without the cursing.

Joyce smiled kindly, if not a bit patronizingly.  “I know a great many things, and I’m striving to teach them to my daughters as well.  But it was actually Buffy who told and explained to me about familiars.”

Before it was even asked of her, Buffy said aloud, “It was in one of Giles’ books, as well as a whole catalogue on the common breeds of familiars.  But Mom still knows more than I do, but that’s only because she has access to the Archives.”

“Buffy!” Joyce snapped.

“I’m sorry Mom, but since we’re all being super honest tonight, I am not about to hide what we have to as well.  I’m not going to keep lying to my friends about my family, or my heritage.” Buffy argued back.

Joyce seemed to seethe for a moment, and then finally managed to calm herself down.  She glared at Buffy and ordered, “Go to bed young lady.  I’ll see to your friends.  And leave it on.  Good night.”  That was a dismissal if Buffy had ever heard one.  She stood up and walked up the stairs without so much as a glance at any of her friends.

“That will be enough for tonight.  Lara, it was nice to meet you.  Now take the demon and Watcher and get out of my house.” Joyce stood up and began to set about cleaning everything up.  Cordelia and Willow, since they hadn’t been dismissed, stayed where they were while everyone else slowly got to their feet and left the Summers’ home.


<<<<<<<<<< *           *            * >>>>>>>>>>


            It wasn’t until the next afternoon, after school, that any of them got to meet again, aside from passing each other in the hall or seeing them in class, none of the gang felt like spending any more time with the others than they had to, with the exception of Cordelia and Willow, who were as always inseparable.

            There was an incident at Lunch involving Larry, Percy, and three other jocks, a stone pillar in the lunchroom, and Buffy Summers’ fists.  Xander sat at the Swimmers Team table.

            Faith slept all day in her motel room, until about an hour past noon where she got something to eat and then headed over to the Summers’ home where last night’s meeting would continue.  Lara was busy at the local museum and Public Records building, while Giles was stuck in the Library at school until the time for the meeting.

            At 4 o’clock, everyone, even Lara, was present, back in the living room of Joyce Summers, and the silence and tension that had forced them to leave before concluding everything last night seemed to have hung around long after it was unwanted.

            In short, everyone was mad at everyone for keeping secrets; Giles, Joyce, Cordelia, and Faith didn’t trust Xander; Giles, Cordelia, and Joyce didn’t trust Faith; and Willow was trying her hardest not to not trust her two closest best friends, Buffy and Xander, but she wasn’t doing so well in the silence.

            Buffy, scratching her shoulders and back as she had been all day, was in a staring contest with her mother, but finally a winner was decided as Joyce sat down, her head bowed almost as though in defeat.  Buffy didn’t exactly look happy about her victory, and her mother’s “graceful defeat” meant that she would have to tell everyone what she, and not her mother, wanted to tell everyone else.  Buffy, while not happy with it, didn’t have a problem with it either since it was what she wanted to do.

            The blonde cleared her throat, then paused as she felt Dawn coming up to the house.  She waited until the door opened before saying, “It’s my turn.  I’m not…”

            “MOM!  BUFFY!  I’m…home…?” Dawn trailed off as she saw everyone in the living room, looking grim.

            “Come here sweety,” Joyce greeted her daughter, waving Dawn towards her.

            Dawn dropped her school stuff and slowly walked towards her life-giver until she could curl up in the woman’s lap, looking around the room, curious as those her age always were.

            Cordelia started to sniff the air and from the looks of it didn’t like whatever she was smelling, but didn’t say anything.

            “I’m not from Earth,” Buffy finished her earlier statement before anything else could happen.

            Dawn’s eyes nearly bugged out of their sockets at Buffy’s declaration, and though she tried her hardest to make it seem like sibling rivalry, most in the room could tell that this bothered her a great deal more than just her sister telling her friends a joke at her expense.

            “Could you…” Giles started to ask, but Buffy interrupted him.

            “I’m human.  So is my mother.  My father is an alien.  He’s from a dimension that exists in a higher plane of existence known mostly as the Void.  Scientists of this day and age consider it the other side of a black hole.  About 60 to 80 % of the Void is occupied with people or creatures that originated on Earth or at the very least from this galaxy.  Most of them are the extinct ‘mythical’ creatures you hear about in fairy tales and legends.  Unicorns, Dragons, Trolls and the like.  And demons.”

            “My husband was…is one of a new species emerging in the Void, a cross between an alien race from this galaxy, and a demon from Earth,” Joyce added her part.  “Buffy was born on Earth and by some physical law, not genetics, she is fully human.  As am I, although I was also born on Earth, I was raised and grew up in the Void.”

            Pure silence surrounded the room.

            “Xander’s a hellspawn, Willow is a witch with a destiny and Cordelia, the girl that used to pick on her and tease her, is her familiar, her companion and protector…and you find all of this,” Buffy gestured with her hands to indicate her own story, “to be unbelievable?!”

            “We…haven’t said anything Buffy,” Giles tried to be the voice of reason while his own was stunned silent.

            “You don’t have to,” Joyce replied, “We can read your thoughts and emotions quite clearly.  Even Dawn here can.”

            “Oh, please don’t involve me in this, they’ll hate me,” Dawn whimpered and cuddled a bit deeper into Joyce’s lap.

            “Ah come on Dawn patrol,” Xander said gently, “There is nothing in…this world, the…Void, or the next two worlds that could possibly make me think any less of you, let alone hate you.”

            Dawn sniffled in reply.

            “Dawn was born in the Void,” Buffy told them.  “She…because I was born on Earth, by the physics that govern this dimension, I am human.  The physics in the Void…aren’t quite as clear cut.”

            “I’m a freak!” Dawn shouted into her mother’s breast.

            “NO YOU ARE NOT!” Buffy and Joyce denied hotly.

            “Dawn is…” Buffy tried to say something, but couldn’t find the words.

            “She’s like your father,” Willow guessed.  “Part demon…part…alien?”

            “And human!” Buffy insisted.  “Her…body can shift.  Sort of like Cordelia’s can, but for a different reason other than just magic.  The demon part only means that Dawn…well we’ve all got a dark side Cordy, but it means that Dawn can access magic and can move between dimensions naturally, although distance is a matter of age, experience, and environment.”

            “Well,” Willow shifted her attention from Buffy to Dawn and Joyce, “what about your alien part Dawn?”

            Dawn sniffled again, but sensing only curiosity and a desire to protect the young creature’s emotions, she sat up and turned around in her mother’s lap.  “It’s what I shapeshift with.  I can turn into almost anything I want to…so long as it’s based on one of my original forms, but mostly it’s just to keep me looking human instead of like I do in the Void.”

            “And your human part?” Xander asked.  “Since the alien part is to keep you looking human that is.”

            “It’s her soul Xander,” Buffy told him.  “Her human part…is her soul.”

            That shocked everybody.  But no one fainted or screamed or anything.  They just sat there, and tried to absorb what they had learned.  Finally Faith couldn’t stand the silence any more and asked Buffy, “Well, it’s great your sister is special, but what I really want to know is how the hell you did those moves you were doing last night B?  I have never seen anybody or anything move that fast, and you actually put the hurt on ole’ Khaki until he finally landed one on you.”

            Faith was stopped from continuing as both Dawn and Joyce sat up with looks of horror on their face, staring at Buffy.  “What?” Faith asked, afraid she’d done something worse than Xander’s confessional last night.

            “You… you… you…” Joyce couldn’t say what she was thinking.

            Dawn, however, could.  “I didn’t see you doing that last night Buffy!  And I only found out this morning you’re still wearing the training harness!  And you used Hyper techniques throughout the entire fight?!”

            “I didn’t use Hyper techniques,” Buffy told them snappishly.  Then she looked suddenly sheepish and worried at the same time as she whispered, “I used Quantura techniques.”

            Dawn fell to the floor, stunned, as Joyce jumped to her feet and demanded with all motherly indignation, “You get that thing off of you this instant young lady!  Why didn’t you tell me…”

            “It’s not that bad,” Buffy excused, scratching her shoulder.  “It only chafes a little, but not that bad.”

            Joyce looked like she was having a heart attack or something worse, her skin pale and breaking out in sweat, her eyes wide and her whole body began trembling as she stepped back in almost fear from her eldest.  “You… you… you…” Joyce stopped and took several deep breaths, then looked again at Buffy.  “You, under a full harness, performed Quantura techniques in battle, against a superior opponent…and it only chafes!”

            Buffy, still looking sheepish, shrugged.

            “She’s the Slayer,” Dawn said, standing up.

            “What?” Joyce said to her daughter.

            “She’s the Slayer.  That’s why she’s advancing so quickly.  Her strength and recuperative powers are enhanced, remember?” Dawn pointed out.

            “Now see here, Buffy I thought you were…” Giles tried to protest Dawn’s knowledge of Buffy being the Slayer.

            “Not now Giles!” Buffy snarled at her Watcher.  He quickly shut up and sat back down.

            “She only heals five times faster than a human Dawn, and even with the damage being less because of her greater strength…she should not be going around like it only chafes!  Buffy, I don’t care, I want you to take it off now!”

            Buffy rolled her eyes and got to her own feet.  “I thought I was still being punished.”

            “Young lady…” Joyce let the threat go as Buffy pulled her blouse off over her head.

            To reveal an undershirt, but with a strange black device with lights blinking occasionally at certain places on it.  It seemed to fit into every crevice of her skin and joints, consisting of only thin black straps of an alien material, connected together via metal components that were just as thing as the straps.  Buffy pulled off her pants to reveal her black thong, and the rest of the harness.  Pressing, in sequence, a series of the metal pieces, the harness was soon able to be taken off of her body, and once she had, she pulled her pants back up, but left her blouse off, comfortable in the undershirt and her bra underneath.

            “Satisfied?” she asked, handing the strap device to Dawn, who quickly took it upstairs.

            Joyce didn’t say anything, she just sat down again.

            “Quantura techniques?” Faith asked.

            Before Buffy could answer, Joyce did.  “Advanced fighting forms that are practiced and used in the Void.  Originally, it was a technique that only a single race of aliens knew and could use.  Then humans entered the Void, and no I don’t know how, but humans and the hybrids from the joining of humans and other races in the Void soon and quickly learned Quantura-han Li No sake.  That’s the formal name by the way.”

            “Cool.  Uh…besides what we saw last night, what’s it do?” Faith asked.

            Buffy shrugged.  “First step, learning how to manipulate your body to do whatever you need it to do.  Basically, what I did last night, was push every single system in my body to 200% of what it could work at, and then pushed my mind to a level of super consciousness where I could interpret everything that my overactive brain was forcing my body to go through.  I’ve been trained in it since I was born.  Those that start any later can never master it.”

            “So…have you mastered it?” Faith asked.

            Buffy and Joyce both snorted and rolled their eyes identically.  Dawn returned then and sat beside her mother rather than on her.  “There has only ever been one true master of Quantura-han Li No sake,” Buffy explained.

            “He was one of the aliens that first had the technique.  He was the most powerful warrior in quite possibly all of existence.  Thankfully, he was on the side of life,” Joyce added.

            At the confused looks they received, Joyce further explained, “He did not use his awesome power to destroy or conquer the Void or other galaxies and people.  He stopped the wars that are constantly fought in the Void, and for his lifetime, there was true peace there.  Then he died, naturally, and the wars started again, and have not stopped.  Since then, both sides, of sides that constantly change from moment to moment, have sought to train a True Master of the Quantura techniques.”

            “Whoa,” Faith said in awe.

            “That’s not even the half of it,” Dawn sarcastically snorted.

            Again, the confused looks, but Buffy didn’t even register them as she mimicked Dawn’s snort and answered their unasked questions.  “Yeah.  Our father is the General for the so-called “right side” in the Void.  Although I’ve gotta agree the leadership is a whole lot better on our side rather than the others, in wars, both sides are the same, and we’re staying out of that.”

            “I can’t say I blame you,” Xander commented from his corner seat.  Buffy shrugged and moved to sit down next to her friend.  She was the only one, other than Willow, it seemed that still trusted him.  Or at least still called him friend.

            “Don’t worry Xan,” Buffy said, rubbing his leg as any true friend would, “we’ll try and find a way to get you out of this contract with Satan thing.”

            “Buff, I killed my entire family, and then committed suicide.  It was either this, or stay in Hell.”

            “Yeah, but now you fight the forces of darkness and you still want your destiny to be to lead them in the Final Battle?” she asked incredulously.

            Xander winced.  “Well…no, but I wouldn’t—“

            “So it’s settled.  Even if I have to master Quantura, make peace in the Void, and lead its armies straight to Hell to do it, I’ll get you out of this deal you’re stuck in,” Buffy promised.

            Xander blinked, deeply touched.  He didn’t know of anything he could possibly say to that.

            But Giles did.

            “Buffy…I don’t think you quite know what you’re saying,” he began, taking his glasses off and wiping them clean.  He put them back on to see a scowling Buffy glaring at him.

            “I know exactly what I’m saying Giles,” she warned him.

            “Then I don’t think you comprehend the scope of what you have just promised a Lost soul,” Giles ignored her warning.

            Xander flinched at the term, but not even he expected the reaction Giles’ words got.

            Faster than thought, faster than the time for the neurons to even fire what light had been reflected onto the retina, Buffy slapped Giles so hard that his jaw was dislocated for half of a second.  When he recovered from the pain enough to look back, he saw his Slayer’s eyes less than an inch from his own.

            “You’re looking at a lost soul found Giles.  In the Void…anything is possible.  If it takes my entire lifetime to do it, I will save Xander’s soul from that damnation.  Even if I have to die and go to heaven to drag God down by the ear to do it herself.  And for your information, the English language is so screwed over that her is the only gender that can possibly conceive of the Creator, as guess what, she’s the CREATOR!!

            Buffy stepped back, but instead of sitting back down, she just stalked out of the room.  Giles’ trials weren’t over yet though.

            Joyce and Dawn were glaring at him as hatefully as Buffy had, and Lara was also looking a might miffed with him.  Dawn just got up and followed her sister.  Lara left the room another way, sensing what was about to happen, and not wanting to get in the crossfire of an execution.

            Willow and Cordelia were the worst however.

            “It’s my destiny to save lost souls Giles,” was all Willow said.  But the unsaid was also quite clearly heard as “And I will save Xander!”

            Cordelia growled at him, her eyes changing color.  Willow went and sat beside Xander, who smiled at her gratefully.  She smiled back and reaffirmed her resolve to Buffy’s promise, and silently made one of her own.  If they couldn’t save Xander’s soul from this deal with the Devil, then they’d just have to take Xander’s soul out of the deal.

            “Something you should learn, that I have about this group Rupert,” Joyce told him, her tone ice cold.  “Never underestimate them.”

            “Any chances that I could get some of this alien training you guys are so keen on?” Faith broke the tension.

            “Of course Faith, but don’t expect to advance too quickly,” Joyce answered her.

            “Haven’t you got any chips?” was heard, shouted from the kitchen.  They all realized it was Lara.  The tension finally broken, and mistrust completely pushed aside, for now, they all laughed a bit, and then Joyce went into the kitchen to help Lara out.

            “So…Faith…what’s with the bone-armor bracelet?” Cordelia asked after several minutes of silence.  Faith shrugged and looked at the silver, red-jeweled thing on her wrist.

            “I…I can’t really say.  It belonged to my Mom.  Kakistos was partially responsible for her death…but he wasn’t they one to kill her.  I’m not ready to face the one that did.  Not yet.  It’s also the reason I’m here.  Beats me as to why or how though.  All I know is that it does what it does, and its called…” she stopped talking for a moment or two, then, “…it…it’s…called…it, uh…uh, gee, ya know what?  I don’t remember what it’s called.”

            “The Witchblade, worn by the strongest willed woman of each generation,” Buffy answered as she and Dawn walked back in, each holding and eating a bag of chips.

            Faith was stunned, and she vaguely sensed, so was the Witchblade.

            “There are legends about it in the Void,” Buffy answered to Faith’s stunned look between bites.  “It’s a powerful weapon, but sometimes, it’s said, not even its wielder can control it.  Therefore it’s considered too dangerous for possession, by all sides in every war.  If a Wielder actually does join one side in a war, usually that side wins for a while, as nobody even wants to fight the Wielder, let alone survives an encounter against it.”

            “Damn,” Faith muttered.  “Well…”

            “Don’t,” Buffy warned, somehow knowing what Faith was about to say.  “I’m not in the war, and I don’t want you or any of my friend involved with my father if I can help it.  However…ultimately, it is your choice.”

            Faith nodded, thankful for the knowledge Buffy had imparted to her.

            “You are welcome to stay of course Faith,” Joyce told the Slayer, as she and Lara returned, the Tomb Raider happily munching on her own bag of chips.

            “Uh, no, I-I-I couldn’t impose,” Faith tried to refuse.

            “Nonsense.  If you truly want to be trained as Buffy has been, then you need to be in this house anyway.  And I could care less about the legendary Witchblade or not.  You’ve admitted that your mother is dead and that your Watcher was killed by that vampire you slayed last night.  The least I can offer you is a place to sleep and train,” Joyce kindly told the brunette.

            Faith blinked in surprise as she realized that she had just admitted she was the equivalent of a runaway orphan.

            “I…thought you said your mother was in New York?” Willow asked.

            Faith’s eyes closed in pain, but she opened them without tears and answered, “She is.”

            “Her body is anyway,” Buffy finished for her sister Slayer.

            Faith looked up, surprised.  “Mind-reading, remember?  Part of the Quantura techniques,” Buffy answered the look.  Faith nodded, having greater and greater respect for these mysterious alien fighting techniques the more she heard about them.

            “Actually, that’s a sub-class of the same school,” Joyce corrected.  Then she turned her attention back to Faith.  “It’s no pressure dear, just an open offer.  Part of my personal philosophy is that I never force anyone to do something against their will.  Except of course to accept help they’re too stupid to realize they need.”

            They all had soft chuckles at that.  Then the contemplative silence returned, mostly centered around Faith, but also Giles.

            “Uh, look, thanks, really, but…I’m all right for now,” Faith answered.

            Joyce and Buffy nodded.  “That’s entirely your prerogative dear,” Joyce replied, “But all the same, the offer remains open for as long as you’d like.”

            “Uh, thanks,” Faith uncertainly replied.

            Buffy sniffed the air slightly, just enough to be obvious that she was doing it.  Then she looked at Xander and asked, “Don’t you have swim team practice this afternoon?  I’m assuming that’s why you’re still wearing your Speedos?”

            Xander looked at her in shock, then recalled and looked at Cordelia, who smirked and nodded in agreement that she too had smelt them on him.  Then he slapped himself upside the head as he remembered that Buffy was right and he did have team practice.  “Shit!  Sorry Mrs. S, but I gotta jet!”  Xander quickly ran out.

            Joyce chuckled softly to herself and sighed.  “Lady Croft, I believe that you mentioned you’d like to know where the lost treasure vaults are in Sunnydale?”

            Lara immediately perked up and forgot all about being called “Lady” and placed all her attention on the warrior from another dimension as Joyce began to describe in detail where she could find all that she was looking for.

            Willow and Cordelia also quickly said their goodbyes, Giles beating a hasty, silent retreat after them, and Faith made some cocky story about having some things to do, and after she left, both Buffy and Dawn went upstairs to do their homework.

            All in all, just another normal day on the Mouth of Hell.


The End

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