Ch6. In Which the Book is Wrong....Again
Disclaimers are back where you should have seen them already.
Rupert Giles looked up from the sheet music he was contemplating when he heard the knock on his door. Muttering under his breath, he forced himself up and toward the door. “Who is it?” he questioned as soon as he was close.
“Your friendly neighborhood Xanman, complete with the Bleached Wonder,” came the cheerful response. “We’re checking out claims that a mouth of hell used to be around here and were wondering if you could help us with that.”
Giles had the door open before Xander completed his spiel. “Xander, good heavens, where have you been? Come in. You may as well too, Spike, unless you have someplace better to be.”
Xander and Spike obediently entered and followed the gestures to the couch. “Spike said you were worried about me, so I figured I should come by. What’s new? Buffy ruin another impractical outfit while doing her sacred duty?”
“Of course, she has, Xander,” Giles replied carelessly, taking a seat as well. “But that’s not new. No, other than a few Rochsheau demons, there has been nothing out of the ordinary. I was merely concerned that something had happened to you, or worse, that you somehow no longer felt welcome here.” Though his tone was light, Giles’ look was anything but. He cared for Xander like the son he’d always wanted, but he couldn’t force the young man to see him as a father, so he settled for something between friend and mentor.
“Oh, well, you’ve never made me feel not welcome, G-man,” Xander replied, trying to think of a lead-in for his immortality, while fishing for (and getting) his requisite “Don’t call me that, Xander.” “I’m not exactly happy with Buffy at the moment, but I’d get over it, if she’d just admit she was wrong and stop treating me like a complete idiot. We might have to wait a while.”
Spike followed the conversation with half an ear. He was more focused on the scent of the person in the Watcher’s guest room. That person was coming toward the living room. He took in everyone in the room from the doorway, remaining unobtrusive until Xander noticed him.
“Xander, Spike.” Daniel Osborne, Oz to everyone but his mom and one stubborn great-aunt, had never been one for too many words. The less he said, the less likely Xander would attack him for coming back to town after trying to eat Willow’s girlfriend.
“Oz.” Xander blinked. To say he was surprised to see the were was an understatement. He hadn’t thought that Oz would be back any time soon after the disaster last time. Still, if ever there was a man that tried to fight his darkness it was Oz. “How ya been? Everything good? Or are you just here to even out the XX to XY ratio around here.”
“Just here,” Oz said, relieved. Xander never had been one to hold the wolf against him, but he was uncertain now more than ever of his standing with the Scoobies. But good old Xander hadn’t changed. Or had he? Oz sniffed the air again. “Something different?” Xander stiffened, and Oz cursed himself. He really needed to know when to keep his nose to himself.
Xander allowed the tension to flow out of him, seeing the wariness and regret in Oz’s eyes. “Actually there is.” Giles’s look turned curious and concerned. “I was just about to tell Giles, but since you can tell the difference already you might as well stick around for the explanation.”
“Kay.” Oz sat cross-legged on the floor. He was staying at Giles’s for a few days until he got a place of his own. He’d decided to stop running, once he’d finally beaten the wolf into accepting that Willow was not Mate. His human half still twinged a bit at the thought, but it was dulled by all their time apart.
“Xander, what is this about?” Giles asked, praying to the powers that it wasn’t a possession, again.
“Don’t look at me, Watcher,” Spike said, speaking up for the first time. “Before he starts I just want to say, that I had nothing to do with it, it was naturally occurring.” Xander glared at him. “What? Soon as you say what you are, he’ll think yer a vamp, so I’m heading that off. The whelp is not a vamp.”
“Thank you, Fangless,” Xander said, exasperated. “Now that you have him even more worried, will you shut up so I can explain? Oz knows what a vamp smells like, so they’d have already known in that case.”
“’M not lookin’ ta in up a pile of dust is all.”
“Fine, now let me talk.” Xander waited to make sure that Spike was done and then turned back to Giles. “Okay, first thing, the girls don’t know, and I’d rather that I get to tell them my way, if I tell them at all. Moving on. Here goes.” He took a deep breath and firmly commanded himself not to babble. “I’m part of an ancient race of Immortals. I only just found this out the night that I had that fight with Buffy. I’ve moved in with a few other Immortals that are teaching me how to survive as what I am. I am not a demon, but I was killed by some. Only I didn’t stay dead. And the only one to kill me since then is my teacher. But only during training. He’s teaching me to fight. And his sister does too, but mostly Delvin and—“
Spike had given up and put his hand over Xander’s mouth before the babblehood could gain strength. “So, Watcher, what do you know about the Immortals?”
Giles was furiously polishing his glasses. “Well, the books all say different things. But they do say that Immortals are no more evil than the human race, so are usually ignored. Ah, it says their weakness somewhat similar to vampires, minus the stake to the heart. They can be burned or beheaded. They can’t walk on sacred ground…oh really, Xander.”
Xander nearly had nearly fallen off the couch he was laughing so hard. “Sorry, G-man.” He laughed some more. “But I have it on good authority from my teacher that while being burned is one of the most painful ways so die, that it’s no more permanent than being shot. And Immortals LOVE Holy Ground.” He giggled. “The Book is wrong again! Why would someone no more evil than Joe Ordinary not be able to walk on Holy Ground.”
“But, there are countless documentations of people retreating to cemeteries and churches to claim sanctuary from Immortals,” Giles protested. “Were they mistaking demons for Immortals?”
Spike snorted. “Half of Sunnyhell is cemeteries, Rupert, and Xan don’t have trouble with them. Immortals seemly can’t kill on Holy Ground. They go there for sanctuary from each other.”
“Well, there’s nothing that physical stops us from killing on Holy Ground,” Xander put in, frowning. “Not like a vamp in a doorway. It’s just that it’s a bad idea. I’m not sure the rule applies to anything but our own kind, but according to Delvin, most won’t risk it. Apparently something horrible happens to the fool that takes a head on Holy Ground. He wouldn’t say what. Maybe the Quickening turns deadly or dark, or maybe it wipes memory. Hell, maybe it doesn’t do anything and it’s just another lie spread to give us somewhere we can go for a bit of peace.” He fell quiet, not exactly happy with that part of his new-found immortality.
“I see,” Giles said, making a mental note to see about getting the books updated with this information. He stared at Xander. An Immortal. He looked harder, not liking the look in the boy’s eyes. Still Xander. “So, how are you doing with your new way of life, Xander.”
Xander snapped back into focus. Giles shouldn’t read his mind, he thought. It wasn’t fair. “It’s not exactly easy, but, hi, my name is Xander and my life is a hellmouth joke.” He tried to laughed but it came out a little strained. “Like I said, I have a teacher, and he’s good. Spike put me in contact with him so I wouldn’t be fair game for the first headhunter to ignore the vibes and pass through town. I’m learning blade combat and meditation and how to build a new identity along with various ways of faking the aging process. And, hey, I now know that my dormant immortality is the reason that demons are so drawn to me. Of course, now that it’s not dormant, they want me even more, but I can deal. Again with the learning combat. It helps. I’m thinking of quitting my job, just so I can spend more time train, or at least cut back to part time. It’s not a bad life. It’s just not what I expected to be doing with myself.”
“Yes, well, I imagine it’s quite a shock. But, I believe that one of the greatest challenges for a new immortal is finding a teacher. As you have one, you’re already at an advantage.” Giles looked at his protégé thoughtfully. “I would put off telling Buffy for a time, at least until you and she are on better terms. For someone of her dating history, she is uncommonly dense about accepting changes.”
Spike laughed out loud at that, and Xander and Oz couldn’t help a smirk. Buffy might once have been a friend and might be one again, but they were all aware of her flaws. “Anyway,” Xander said. “I just wanted you to know, because I figured you, of everyone here, would be able to handle it. That goes for you too, Oz, but I didn’t know you were here. Buffy and Willow, I don’t quite trust not to judge. But, I need to meet my teacher at the diner. I was wondering if you, well both of you, would want to come by the mansion for dinner sometime next week and meet the others?”
“The mansion?” Oz asked.
“Oh right, whelp, you forgot to tell where you were staying,” Spike snarked, unsure if Xander would want it known that Spike was staying there as well.
Xander slapped himself in the forehead. “Well, gee, mister vampire, in all the life changing conversation I can’t imagine why I forgot to mention a change of address,” he snarked right back. “Angel sold the mansion to my teacher. Spike and I moved in a couple weeks ago with the other Immortals. There’s Delvin, Diane and Greg. I think that’s all I needed to mention. Did I forget anything?”
“Only why Spike is living there as well,” Giles said. “I was unaware that you two got along so well after your complaints when he was staying in your former residence.”
“The whelp didn’t invite me, his teacher did. We’re old acquaintances,” Spike said, not willing to go further into his past with Delvin. “And we get along just fine. Don’t we, Droopy?”
Xander just rolled his eyes. “What he said.”
AN: Well? I promise, I'll develop something apocalyptic eventually, but not without setting everything up first. This is bound to be a long story, just so you know. What do you think so far?