Disclaimer: No-one is mine, I didn’t make them up and the characters and the universes they normally live in belong entirely to their creators and respective television companies (I assume).
All I will admit to doing is taking these characters and their universes and mixing things up a bit. Hope you enjoy.
As this is an AU story, some of your favorite characters or events will probably not appear or be mentioned.
Dates and chronologies used have been mainly taken from Wikipedia and cross-referenced against the various Star Trek reference sites - some dates contradict each other, so I have chosen to use those which recur most frequently.
With much thanks to Joe P for making a few suggestions and having a few ideas as well as proof reading - any problems, blame him.
Lyrics used later in this chapter come from Welcome To The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance
“This is going to be perfect,” Tom thought as placed the candlestick on the table “I just hope she likes the menu Neelix has planned.” He stood back looking at the table and moved the candlestick again. Then put it back where it originally had been.
He turned the music down (he had carefully chosen Perry Como’s greatest hits and “Magic Moments” was now playing softly in the background). He smiled at how clever he was in selecting music she would be familiar with.
As he nervously checked the 400-year-old rules of 20th century dating etiquette one last time, he caught his reflection. “Shoot, it’s too late for a haircut now.” Before he could finish smoothing his hair with his hands, he heard a serving cart being wheeled into his quarters. He closed his eyes in appreciation, “Neelix, my man, it smells wonderful!”
“Well, Lieutenant, I followed some of the ancient recipes you gave me and used whatever we had in the galley,” Neelix said as he placed the covered dish on the linen covered table, moving the candlestick out of the way. “Are you really sure the Captain is ok with this? And don’t forget Sandrine’s, you promised me ......"
“Sure, Neel, everything is taken care of,” Tom said placatingly, all the while thinking of the ways Janeway would kill him if she knew what was going on.
As Neelix left the room, Tom lifted the cover of the dish and couldn’t believe his eyes. It was a masterpiece, roasted a nice golden brown with fancy little paper hats, (or is it booties?) covering the ends of the bones. And the smell was just heavenly ...
“Knock, knock,” Harry stood in the doorway, grinning, “All ready for the big date, buddy? Oh my god, no, Tom...” The grin quickly turned to an expression of horror.
“It’s my hair, isn’t it?” Tom said with a pained expression on his face. “I forgot all about getting a...”
Harry interrupted, “No Tom, its not your hair, though...” Harry grinned again, “What is her name, huh? You do remember, don’t you, you love sick fool?” Harry began to laugh.
Tom frowned, trying hard to understand what Harry was getting at. “Of course I know her name, it’s Willow Rosen... OH NO!!!” Tom exclaimed as they both stared at the stuffed crown roast of (albeit alien) pork.
“What do I do now?” Tom began to sweat, “I can’t feed her this! And she’ll be here any moment now!” Panicking, he imagined the reaction she might have to seeing the pork. Would she faint? Would she get angry? Would she hate me forever? Would she turn me into stone? Or worse, would she turn herself to stone? I hope she doesn’t faint again. Tom closed his eyes momentarily in relief, thankful that the few attempts they had made had shown that Willow’s magic didn’t seem to work in space.
Harry thought quickly, “You get rid of this somehow and I’ll run to the galley. Maybe I can find something. But I’m warning you, I’m not that much of a cook.” With that, he turned and ran out the door.
Tom called faintly after him “Don’t let Neelix find out!”
He stood there alone, beads of sweat forming on his forehead, staring at the would-be offensive dish. “What do I do with this now?” he said out loud, trying desperately to think of something as he scanned the room.
“Hello? I’m not early am I?”
Tom quickly slammed shut the top of his footlocker, and scrambled to his feet in time to see Willow smiling at him from the doorway. He rubbed his hands against his legs to try to get all traces of the meat from them as he reached for her elbow and led her into the room.
As Willow entered, her eyes widened, “Tom, all of this? For me?” She tried not to blush as she saw the perfectly set table, complete with candlelight. Tom couldn’t hide his smile as he escorted her to her seat. As he pushed in her chair, he wondered what the hell was taking Harry so long in the galley.
“Dinner should be here shortly. We had to... Umm, I mean I put in a special order for us.”
Tom gazed into Willow’s eyes in the dim candlelight, “I hope this is ok with you, dinner here, I mean?”
Willow smiled, “Well, I am a little hungry,” she said, suppressing a giggle. What is that smell in here, she thought to herself, trying not to obviously sniff. And what’s with the oldies music? Is that Dean Martin he’s playing?
Tom nervously watched the door. “I hope the food gets here soon, I have no idea what is taking so long,” he tried to say convincingly.
“When I came in I thought dinner was here already. What is that? It smells like sage? Or meat? Or something?” Willow said, wrinkling her nose.
“Umm, it’s...” Tom tried to think quickly, “its ...that’s just my...my laundry.” He groaned inside as he fixed a smile on his face – Great, now she’ll think I have hygiene problems, he thought as he quickly glanced at his footlocker.
Willow laughed nervously and looked into his eyes as she also fixed a smile on her face .... Oh boy, I knew there just had to be something wrong with him. He sweats like a pig! And ewww, his laundry sure smells like it, and a cooked one, at that.... oh well, one must take the bad with the good, I guess. He’s still darned cute, though his taste in music leaves a lot to be desired... Her thoughts were interrupted as Harry entered carrying a huge serving tray, a towel folded over his arm and a prim expression on his face. He coughed politely.
“Dinner is served, Lieutenant, Madam,” he said formally, placing the tray on the table. He caught Tom’s eye and winked, ”I hope all will be satisfactory sir? Please ring if you have any further requirements.”
“Thank you, Mr. Kim, that will be all. You may take the rest of the evening off,” Tom said, sneaking a thumbs up to Harry, as Willow peeked under the cover of the serving dish.
“Where’s the ketchup? And no fries??” Willow looked up at Tom with a puzzled expression on her face. “And what about pickles?”
“Pickles? Ketchup?” Tom wondered what she was talking about and just what the hell did Harry make down in the galley?
As Willow lifted the cover, Tom’s questions were answered. There on the huge silver platter were two cheeseburgers, grease slowly seeping through the buns.
This time, it was Tom who felt like fainting.....
Willow popped the last bit of burger into her mouth and watched Tom carefully. Why did he keep looking at the footlocker? And just what the hell is that smell in here? It really can’t be his laundry, unless he was rolling around in a stuffing mix today, she thought to herself. As Tom finished the last bites of his burger, Willow finally decided to see what his attraction to the locker really was.
Standing, she moved to the ancient looking box. “This looks familiar,” she said, looking back at Tom as she trailed her fingers over the cover. As her fingers found the hidden catch she remembered. "This was Xander’s - he kept it in his room,” she said as she moved to open the lid.
“It’s an old family heirloom... Willow, no...please...,” Tom said weakly and a little too late, as Willow opened the top. The smell of pork roast and stuffing inundated the room.
Willow looked at Tom with a raised eyebrow, ”Umm, Tom, why is there a....”
Tom interrupted, “I am so, so sorry, Willow, there was no other place to hide it and I had to get rid of it somehow before you got here and I really didn’t know that Neelix was making that for dinner and...”
Somehow Willow had crossed the room and she placed a finger over his mouth. “Sheesh! I’m the one who’s supposed to babble,” She laughed, ”Oh Tom, its fine, everything's fine. You were worried because it’s pork? Because I’m Jewish? That's so sweet.” She kissed him lightly on the cheek. “I am not strict Jewish, my parents maybe, but not me. I eat pretty much what I want, when I want, except when they make dinner, of course,” she said. “It’s a shame this got wasted,” she added, looking at the now cold roast. “Though to tell you the truth I don’t actually like pork very much, so your efforts weren’t completely wasted. And Harry’s burgers were...” she hiccuped quietly, “interesting to say the least. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that experience.”
“Your parents were strict about their faith?” Tom queried as they left the pork on the table and moved to one of the couches.
“Oh yes, very strict. They even didn’t like me being friends with Xander and Buffy - thought we were all a little too close. They would have died if they knew how close..." Willow thought back to how she and Xander had to hide things from them. “I used to sneak over to his house to watch Christmas shows on television, you know. And we even used to write and speak in code if they were around,” she giggled at the memory.
When she said the word “code”, it jogged Tom back to reality and away from how deep he was looking into her eyes. Code? Could the book be written in code?
He was going to hold off until later, but now he figured the time was as good as any. He slowly walked to the footlocker, picked up his grandfather’s book and brushed some stuffing crumbs off the cover. “I didn’t want to do this quite yet but I think I might have something you can help me with, Willow,” he said as he handed it to her. “I can’t make heads or tails out of this thing.”
Tom had explained during previous meetings about how he believed his family had changed their name from Harris to Paris and that he was a descendant of her Xander. He hadn’t mentioned the diary before and he thought she had fainted before he mentioned it to Harry and B’Elanna.
Willow gingerly opened the antique leather cover and began gently flipping through the pages.
“It’s code all right,” she said. “One Xander and I created...you take a sentence made up of all the letters of the alphabet - something like ‘jumping quickly to x-ray zebras and frogs round the clock on Valentine’s Day’,” she frowned trying to remember the exact sentences that they had used, “then, depending where each letter comes in the sentence, it is exchanged for the appropriate letter of the normal alphabet, then you move 3 letters forward or 3 letters back every other letter.”
At Tom’s glazed expression, Willow continued patiently. “OK, jumping quickly to X-ray zebras? The first letter of that sentence is ‘J’ which then becomes ‘A’ and is coded as ‘D’. With me so far? ‘U’ is the second letter used, so it becomes ‘B’ and this is then coded as ‘Y’ and the next letter used is coded as ‘F’ and so on ...get it now?”
Tom just smiled indulgently at the excited bundle of energy that sat beside him. He would “get it” eventually, he was sure, but Willow bouncing in her seat was just too distracting for now. Before he could form a sentence more coherent than “huh” she had bounced to the door and out of it, saying she was too hyped up to sleep and wanted to begin work on the translation.
“Well damn,” Tom thought, “I didn’t have sleep planned either.” Sighing, he looked at the empty place left beside him before going for the sonic equivalent of a cold shower.
He wasn’t sure how much later it was when he was woken by the sound of crying.
As the lights came up in his quarters, he saw Willow sitting on his couch crying her eyes out and clutching the journal to her chest. As he gently moved it from her hands she turned into his arms and whispered over and over again that she had to get back to make things right.
SAN FRANCISCO, 26 May 2163
When I was a young boy,
My father took me into the city
To see a marching band.
He said, "Son when you grow up,
would you be the savior of the broken, the beaten and the damned?"
He said "Will you defeat them,
your demons, and all the non believers, the plans that they have made?
Because one day I'll leave you,
A phantom to lead you in the summer,
To join the black parade."
The words of the song ran through my head. It was an old song from before the War, from before things changed. I had heard it before, but now with my father’s words ringing in my ears it seemed appropriate.
Only he hadn’t taken me to see a marching band. He took me to a graveyard, and he made me memorize the names of everyone on the headstones and the stories that went with them.
I had tried to do the right thing, to do what he wanted, what he expected. And now? Now my life might as well be over, and my Starfleet career is certainly over before it began, and I never got further than flying a desk. I would never see the Vulcan home world, never help shape the future. And all because of my family’s past.
Expelled from Starfleet after 2 years because I had to carry on the family “tradition.” Yeah, sure I could have told them that all the bruises and the lost sleep came from fighting the forces of evil and not bar brawls. That would have got me locked up in a lunatic asylum.
Why couldn’t I have been Tom, or Dick, or Harry’s progeny? Why did I have to be the great, great grandson of Michael Harris? The greatest demon hunter ever to have lived. And who in turn was the grandson of Xander Harris, who fought alongside the slayer and the witch on the hellmouth. And whose fault all this was.
No, that’s not fair – it’s HER fault. If she hadn’t disappeared he wouldn’t have cursed his family, MY family, into finding out the truth of her disappearance and to keep fighting the good fight in her name.
Damn you Willow Rosenberg, I hope you are rotting in hell for what you have done to me.
Tom could understand his ancestor’s frustrations and placed a chaste kiss on Willow’s brow. She had eventually cried herself dry and seemed to be sleeping peacefully.
When his grandfather gave him the journal he hadn’t known what the old man had meant when he said, “One day you will understand,” or why his father had been so angry. He wasn’t sure he understood yet, but he felt a growing sense of unease. It was as if someone had just placed the weight of a thousand worlds on his shoulders.
A coded copy of an official looking document was pasted in the next few pages. Moving a blanket to cover Willow, he began reading her translation...
EDINBURGH, 13 September 2163
Minutes of the Meeting of the Extra Ordinary General meeting of the Watchers Council
Officer’s Quarters, former Military Installation at Edinburgh Castle
All serving members present
Purpose: Discuss findings pertaining to possible resurgence of demonic activities.
It has come to the attention of the council that, for the first time since the great war of 2053, vampiric and demonic activity has once again begun.
For 108 years, it has been widely thought that vampires no longer existed on Earth due to the contamination of food sources. Thankfully, during that time, surviving members of previous council saw fit to continue our good work in preparation for such a contingency as the one, which we are now realizing.
Reports have reached us of one Nathaniel Harris, formerly of Sunnydale, California, and formerly of Starfleet Academy, San Francisco. It seems that Mr. Harris has taken it upon himself to assume the duty of combating demonic forces that have resurfaced in the area in which he currently resides.
As Mr. Harris, through family history, is aware of the reason that we exist as a council, a motion has been made that we contact him regarding his possible future service to our organization. It is our wish that this council, with his consent, sanction the continuance of his heretofore-unauthorized activity.
(The motion was carried unanimously and discussion ensued as to what his proposed mission should entail.)
With the advent of the opening of Starfleet Academy in San Francisco, California in 2161, the membership of the council has previously expressed grave concern that this program may be infiltrated by those with motives that conflict with the mission of this council. The search for new untainted food sources could lead to the expansion of evil to the outer reaches of this galaxy, and also the return of this evil to this planet with renewed strength and power.
This council, by unanimous vote, hereby establishes the mission of Nathaniel Harris as that of a protector of Starfleet. Due to his past exploits and the possibility that his surname may be too recognizable by forces of evil, Mr. Harris’ name shall be changed to such as he may desire. Our esteemed colleague, Rachel Summers, is nominated by this council to return from Paris and to accept a post as Mr Harris’ Watcher. She will be primarily responsible for any records alteration that may be needed in order to facilitate Mr. Harris' graduation and assignment to the Federation fleet. Both of these missions shall be maintained with the utmost of secrecy. The irony in selecting these particular operatives is not lost on those members present.
The end of the slayer line, whilst regrettable, should not prevent the Council from taking these steps as deemed necessary to protect mankind and, as humanity reaches out to new worlds, aside from the concerns noted above, we also have to ensure that these new worlds, and vulnerable races, are not faced with the same horrors as we have lived with for centuries.
Motion unanimously carried...