Prologue - The Summons Home
TITLE: Voices In My Head
FANDOMS: BtVS/Highlander/The Sentinel/TCoR
CHARACTERS: Xander-Dawn centric (non-shippy, er…mostly)
RATING: R-Mature (for violence) – individual chapters varyDISCLAIMER:
All things Buffy are owned by J. Whedon, all things Sentinel are owned by Petfly Productions, all things Highlander are owned by Davis-Panzer Productions, & all things Riddick are owned by Universal Studios.
WARNING: Major character death!!! (sorta)
CATEGORY: AU, Futurefic – Roughly 5 years post “Chosen”, Action/Adventure, some strange shippiness for Dawn.
SUMMARY: The “Key” is eternal – Dawn Summers is not. When Dawn is killed, she realized that the Key is bound to her soul, not her body. So when the Key searches for a new host it drags Dawn along with it – directly into Xander’s head. VOICES IN MY HEAD
Prologue – The Summons Home
Dropping his carryon bag next to the faded blue chair in the airport waiting lounge, Xander resisted the urge to sigh in irritation. Instead, he merely sat down and sipped at his coffee in the hopes that it would keep him alert and awake so that he didn’t miss his flight. Not that he’d ever slept through an overhead announcement that his flight was now boarding and then been forced to exchange his ticket for a later flight once he’d woken up in the empty waiting lounge. No. Not him. Okay, fine. But at least he hadn’t done it more than once and not anytime recently.
Another sip of coffee and he banished the thoughts of past humiliations and pondered future ones. Grunting, Xander reached down and pulled the print-out of his latest email from Phineas Pryce, the sole surviving member of the Windham-Pryce family, from the side pocket of his carryon. Unfolding it, Xander read it once more to be certain that he wasn’t becoming overly paranoid.To: Watcher Alexander Harris, Field Agent - Specialist Status; Slayer Division
It is my hope that this missive finds you in good health and with no pending emergencies on the horizon.
As you are aware, unlike most Immortals who remain in total ignorance of any branch of the Watchers Council, you have been given leave to have your own Watcher work closely with you due to the fact that your work in the Slayers branch of the Watchers Council can often prove vital to the safety of hundreds, if not thousands of innocent lives. The fact that you routinely press a Watcher from the Immortal branch of the Council to help with research into the supernatural has, many times, been overlooked. We freely acknowledge that the fate of the world is more important than minor Council policy.
The fact that Watcher Reginald Trenton fled back to Paris Headquarters after the battle at Bahawalpur and demanded immediate reassignment is not being held against you in any way. The thwarting of a demonic clan’s bid for power in the middle of a civil-war torn nation is not something that just anyone can accept as merely another day at the office.
The fact that Watcher Trenton is not the first to do so is also not being held against you. The Watchers of the Immortal branch of the Council are, more often than not, merely historians and researchers. The Watchers of the Slayer branch are warriors and fighters as well as researchers.
Despite Trenton’s lack of intestinal fortitude, many here have taken his reports to heart and worry about you and your emotional state. You have been on the front lines of this war against the darkness for many years; seven on the Sunnydale Hellmouth, three traveling through Africa and the Middle East in search of activated Slayers, and the past two you’ve taken assignment after assignment in which various Slayer-teams have called for backup and extra help. Not to put too fine a point on it, Watcher Trenton has described you as being paranoid, trigger-happy, overly protective of the various Slayers you have worked with, and quite possibly insane.
Unfortunately, your growing reputation within the ranks of both branches of the Council has left us without anyone willing to act as your Watcher. That’s not entirely true; perhaps I should say that there isn’t anyone willing who is fully trained. As you are aware, Adam Pierson was formally a Watcher-researcher with the Immortal branch of the Council and has transferred over to the Slayer branch due to the fact that he became an Immortal himself. His current assistant, one Dawn Summers, has volunteered to become your Watcher.
Since Miss Summers has not yet completed her training course to become an active Watcher within the Immortal branch, you are hereby recalled to London Headquarters where it is felt that you can enjoy a dearly earned and much needed rest from your duties.
I look forward to seeing you once you return to London.
Watcher Phineas Pryce, Middle Eastern Slayer Teams Coordinator
Xander snorted. Phineas Pryce was an overeducated pinhead who used big words and rarely ever set foot outside of his posh little world of comfy office and luxury ancestral home. He was a lot like Wes had been when he’d first arrived in the ‘dale. Unlike Wes, he’d never gone face-to-face with evil and had the pompous knocked out of him. Still, despite all of the big words and long-winded speeches, Phin wasn’t so bad. Most of the surviving members of the old Slayers branch of the Watchers Council had lost their overweening arrogance after the First had gone on its murderous rampage targeting the potentials and the Watchers.
Reading between the lines of Phin’s email was a story all its own. Xander wasn’t in trouble for scaring off another Watcher. No one was mad at him. They were worried about him instead. They thought he was losing it and was on the edge of burnout or something. They wanted him somewhere safe and calm so that they could coddle him and help him meditate on his navel or some such stupidity.
That’s why they were giving him Dawn as his new Watcher. Not that Dawn couldn’t take care of herself if all hell broke loose, because she could. It’s just that Buffy wouldn’t let him take any assignments that seemed too dangerous if he was going to be dragging her little sister behind him. It was sneaky, underhanded and manipulative. It was pure Buffy and Willow.
The only problem was; Xander didn’t think he was crazy or even headed that way. At least, not any more than normal. He hadn’t suddenly cracked and started talking into his shoe like Maxwell Smart or anything. He was the same as he always was, a little older and a little wiser, sure. That was expected.
Okay, so the Immortal thing changed him a bit, but to be honest, he wasn’t even sure when it happened. Oh, he knew when he figured it out, but he was sure that his immortality had kicked in long before he had actually realized it. Thinking back, he figured that his first death had been when he’d been hit by the Troll Hammer. Most mortals didn’t survive that kind of thing, but he had. At the time, he hadn’t wondered why, he’d just been grateful.
While he’d never admit it to Willow, Kingmans Bluff had changed him too. Things that had lain dormant inside of him had woken up from the blasts of pure dark magic that Willow had slammed him with. Memories and nightmares that he’d firmly laid to rest were suddenly clamoring for attention inside his head after that. He probably should have said something then, but there had been so many other things that were much more important and immediate going on that he’d held his tongue. Afterwards when things calmed down again, he’d pretty much had it all under control and it wasn’t worth putting Willow through anymore grief and guilt.
Losing his eye, burying Sunnydale inside of the collapsing Hellmouth, his self-imposed exile from the Scoobies, roving through third-world nations in his search for Slayers despite language barriers, various civil wars, rampant diseases and centuries long demonic clan wars had also changed him. He was not the same sarcastic, wisecracking, donut fetching Zeppo that he once was.
He was Xander Harris, the Hellborn Immortal.
He had a reputation for being ruthless and deadly. He was fearless in the face of evil, careless with his own life and yet insanely protective of the lives of others. His fondness for explosives was worrying and his ability to mouth off to anyone under the sun well practiced. Demons and Immortals alike trembled at his name.
Xander snorted again and then finished off the last of his quickly cooling coffee. Who was he kidding? He might have a bit of a reputation in certain circles, but it wasn’t that big or that bad. And when faced with the Scoobies, his reputation meant bupkis.
His relationship with Buffy had cooled off dramatically after Sunnydale and now they danced around each other very carefully as if their friendship was made of glass and would shatter at one harsh word. They didn’t see each other very often, but they were slowly making their way back to good. It would never be the same as it was, but that was okay. Neither he nor Buffy were the same people they had been, and that was a good thing.
Giles, well, that was a strange thing that he didn’t often look at too closely. When they’d been younger back in the ‘dale, Giles had been a sort of mentor or father figure to all of them. At the time, Xander had felt that out of all the Scoobies, he’d ended up as the disappointment. The failure. It was different now. Giles, as the head of the Slayers branch of the Council was still the boss, but they were both adults instead of adult and child. What’s more, Giles sent Xander on assignments that he wouldn’t trust to anyone else on the planet. Not even Buffy or Willow. Which was good since Xander would kill Giles himself if he ever found out that he’d sent either girl out on an assassination mission.
No, what Giles and he shared now was nothing like the innocent student-mentor relationship that they had once had. Premeditated murder does that to people.
Then there was Willow. He loved and adored his Willow-girl. He probably always would. Even if she still thought of him as the same goofy kid that had periodically hidden from his parents drunken brawls and flunked out of math and French class. Twice. He wasn’t that kid anymore and he didn’t need nor want her to try and ‘fix’ him or ‘take care’ of him.
Still, they didn’t often cross paths, so her need to mother him never got too bad. And he knew that it was her lingering guilt over the whole Kingmans Bluff thing that blinded her to the fact that he had grown up. It didn’t help that while she and Buffy looked their ages that he still looked like he was in his late teens or early twenties. Still, he loved her madly and wanted her to be happy.
Dawn. He was completely confused about what to feel about Dawn. When she was a kid she had a huge crush on him and followed him around with those huge puppy eyes. He had been flattered beyond belief and had given her lots of attention and encouragement. Of course, it hadn’t been anything shippy. She was a kid. At the time. The last time he had seen her she had been totally grown up and drop-dead gorgeous to boot. Her childhood crush on him might have been completely gone by then, but he’d developed one instead. He’d had to constantly remind himself that she was Buffy’s younger sister and totally off limits.
Now she was going to be his Watcher and follow him around the globe as he went from assignment to assignment.
[Now boarding flight 347 to London England at Gate G7]
Xander was pulled out of his swirling thoughts at the overhead announcement. It took him a moment to translate the words from Punjabi and into English. Then he was tucking away the email printout and throwing his empty coffee cup into the trash. Picking up his carryon, Xander pulled his ticket out and headed toward the Gate.
He was going home. Home to the Scoobies. Who knew what crazy hijinks would ensue.