A New Path
by Eddie Witcher
Title: A New Path
Author: Eddie Witcher
Disclaimer: BTVS characters and any plot from the series belongs to Joss Whedon. Ben Haroldson belongs to me.
Pairings: normal canon pairings for now,
Rating: Strong PG-13 at least. rated FR18 to be safe
Summary: The PTBs have a problem. Whistler does a quick and dirty fix, which has consequences nobody sees coming.
Spoilers: Prophecy Girl. no other mentions of season one. Pretty much everything after that will be covered.
A/N: Canon for Season One, then it's slightly AU. I have no idea how far I'm going to take this, but I'm going to try to stay as true to canon as I can. Some characters will make appearances sooner than they did in the series but I'll try to keep them "off camera" until they showed up in original canon. Some motivations will be different, but similar decisions will be made. I'm mainly just seeing what happens when I add someone new to the mix and tweak things just so...
June 9th 1997, 5:00 P.M Sunnydale Highschool
This story starts the Tuesday after Prophecy Girl ends. It's the last week of school. Buffy is leaving Wednesday morning to spend the summer with her father.
Xander looked around in confusion."How'd I get in the library?"
Giles sighed in relief. "I believe that its no longer necessary to restrain him Buffy." Buffy released his arms.
Willow ran over and wrapped him in a hug. "Oh my God Xander I was so worried that we wouldn't be able to find you and then when we did you yelled at us and tried to hit Buffy when we tried to save you from the soulsucking demon bi-" Xander's hand stopped the babble.
"As usual: Willow, Breathe. What's going on and what's this thing around my neck?"
Giles removed his glasses as he sat down at the library table and began polishing them. "Well, that is a protective amulet, it's made from... You, you mean you don't remember?" he said, surprised.
Xander shook his head. "No, nothing since right after school. a girl was handing out invitations to some private party at the Bronze."
Willow piped up, "She was a succubus, we saw you acting kinda weird and we stopped you from going"
"Yeah, apparently she and her sisters want to lunch on the soul of every boy virgin they can get. That"s about the back of the box, right Giles?" said Buffy.
"Um, yes. They need the souls of male virgins for a ritual to preserve their immortality and beauty; it will also increase their ability to do magic."
"And I'm guessing that I would not have survived this."
"No. You wouldn't."
Xander reached up and felt the amulet. "That's what this thing's for, right? To make sure I don't die when they try to do this." he said, smiling nervously.
"Not exactly. The amulet is intended to block the geas that was placed on you when you touched the invitation."
"What does a bunch of geese have to do with this?"
"He said geas not geese. It's mind control, not birds." Willow said, trying not to laugh.
"Oh. What's it supposed to do?"
Giles turned the page of the book he was reading. "As near as I can figure from previous accounts; it was meant to draw you to the ritual. When the ritual is completed the soul of every male virgin within several hundred feet will be absorbed by the succubi. Obviously, we cannot allow this to happen. The geas would also make you subservient to them; similar to the fanatical devotion of a religious zealot. I think that you should remain here while we deal with this. If you were to lose the amulet you would effectively switch sides, which could lead to disastrous results."
"Okay, I can understand that. I don't like it but I can understand it. It's not like Buffy can't get past a few teenage boys to slay these things, right?
Giles furrowed his brow in a pained expression. "I'm afraid there will be more than just human resistance to our efforts. Due to its demonic nature, a succubus is able to control vampires less than a century old, particularly any that were male virgins when they were turned. Given how many young people fall prey to vampires in Sunnydale; it's entirely possible that there will be a small army guarding them."
"I'm going." Xander said.
Buffy looked up from the crossbow she was fiddling with. "Xander, please stay here. If they get the amulet off, you'll turn on us. If they win it'll be bad, but it won't be end of the world bad. Stay here where you'll be out of range, where you'll be safe. If you had powers, or were a better fighter, it might be worth the risk, but you don't."
Xander pointed in Willlow's direction. "Why's Willow going? And What about Giles? They don't have powers either. Do you know whether or not HE's a virgin?
Giles closed the book and set it on the table. "I can assure you, that term hasn't applied to me for quite some time now. The ritual will be on the ground floor. We'll use the fire escape to enter the bronze on the second. We should be able to get quite close to them without interference. We know there are at least three succubi, probably more. All of us will be armed with crossbows. After the first volley, Angel and Buffy will engage any surviving demons while Willow, Cordelia, Miss Calendar, and myself provide covering fire; Air support of a sort. Once the succubi are dead most of those present should simply scatter, human and vampire alike. If we fail to stop the ritual, we might still survive, you would not. I find myself agreeing with Buffy wholeheartedly. You should stay out of this one."
"So that's it. You're saying I might get hurt."
Buffy raised her voice, "No Xander. WE might all get hurt, but you're more likely to get killed. You can't do anything to make up for that extra risk."
Xander narrowed his eyes. "I was able to bring you back. The risk doesn't matter. My life. My decision. I'm going." He got up and went towards the book cage, where the weapons cabinet was.
"Xander! Stay out of this. you'll get hurt."
"You don't know that. I told you that I'm not going ignore what goes on around here. You can try to ditch me if you want. I'm going to be there anyway and I don't care if you don't like it. I'll follow you if I have to." He turned and opened the weapons cabinet.
Furious, Buffy followed him, "You're not going with us. You're not following us. I'm not going to let you get hurt." Seeing that he was ignoring her, She screamed, "Look at me when I'm talking to you!!". Xander started to turn to tell her where she could stuff her attitude. He got far enough to see her fist before some pretty stars got in the way.
Ben slammed the door when he left the house. He couldn't stay here. He'd seen the marks on his aunt. If he stayed there was no way his uncle.... NO. His aunt's husband. There was no way that bastard woulld live to see tomorrow. The problem was that if he killed him, things would only get worse. His aunt would have an even harder time making ends meet with her job and his cousins were still too young to keep the house and farm running. He knew that there was no way he'd be able to help from jail. It wouldn't matter if he called the cops. his aunt would just say she fell, or tripped over a dog. *Again*. Ben got into the truck. As he turned the key, he muttered. "I wish I was somewhere that monsters weren't protected by the law. I wish I was somewhere that killing WOULD help. I wish I was somewhere that I could help.
Whistler was in a bad mood. Not only was the slayer screwing things up again; Not only was the Harris kid safely out of the way the one time he was SUPPOSED to get into trouble; The PTBs had to go and ruin his day off by sending him to collect a favor from D'Hoffryn. Whistler adjusted his hat one last time, before he teleported to D'Hoffryn's throne room.
D'Hoffryn idly scanned various dimensions, hoping to catch a mortal making a wish that would be particularly amusing if granted. He looked up from his window and smiled when he felt the vengeance demon's presence. "Whistler! What brings you here? Our poker game isn't till next month."
Whistler forced a tired smile as he took off his hat. "My Pain in The ass Bosses are in a panic. A player they're grooming has been benched at the worst possible time. If he isn't where he's supposed to be tonight, he's going to be dead by sunset tomorrow."
D'Hoffryn leaned back on his throne before speeaking. "Don't They have replacements? And what, pray tell, does this have to do with me?
"The kid has a talent for screwing their plans up. They tried to bench him themselves for a while, then they decided to get some use out of him. They're using him as a strategically placed banana peel for now."
"Wait, you said they were grooming him."
"They are, now. He's a bumbling squire that has the potential to be a White Knight. The backups aren't in place yet. As for how that affects you.... There's nothing the Powers can do and they knew you owe me a favor."
"Do you mean to tell me that they got you to come here on your own time, to waste a favor to you, on their business?"
"Unfortunately yes." Whistler said with a frown.
"Those arrogant bastards...." D'Hoffryn glanced at the interdimensional window for a moment. Then he turned to look intently at it. His face broke into a grin. He back to Whistler. "So tell me, just how annoyed at your bosses does that make you?"
Whistler frowned, wondering what he was up to. Finally he answered, "Annoyed enough that I might not notice details that will make their jobs a pain in the ass without affecting mine."
The grin on the vengeance demon's face just got bigger. "I may have a solution entertaining enough that I'll let you keep that favor. There is a man in one of the realities that the creator takes care of personally. He lives in an area that could have been a hellmouth. His hands are figuratvely tied by the law, preventing him from helping others. He just made three wishes. Any one of which could be used to send him to Sunnydale.... if I had any power there. There is one detail that should lead to the slightly different results than what the Powers have in mind. He has a talent for unorthodox solutions. If there's a loophole, he'll probably find it."
"How's that any better than what I already have to put up with? In case you didn't notice, I'm already running damage control."
"He'll get to where you want him to go on time. He just likes to take the backstreets to avoid a fender bender."
"That sounds like something I can deal with. You're sure this won't come back to bite me in the ass?" The balance demon asked warily.
"Not if YOU are willing to deal with someone smart enough to ask the right questions." replied D'Hoffryn.
Whistler rocked back and forth on his heels, thinking. It sounded good. Solve the immediate problem with someone who might be able to replace the Harris kid if necessary in the future. The Powers would like that part. Someone who would occasionally tweak their noses while getting the job done, and smart enough to really listen, to boot. This could work. The only question was if they could get him out of The Big Guy's personal sandbox. "What about the Creator?"
"You know how strongly He believes in free will. If you present the situation to the human properly, he would choose to live on a hellmouth rather than his current circumstances."
Whistler slowly nodded. "The Powers were willing to try anything. I think that sounds like carte blanche. I'm in."
Ben spun gravel as he turned out of the driveway. He didn't want to go home, nothing to distract him there. After a few miles he took a turn down a road he hadn't taken yet. He was always looking for shortcuts or just new ways to get somewhere. One of the good things about the boonies was that if you wanted to get lost, you could. When you wanted to head home, all you had to do was keep driving. You'd either end up on a road big enough to be on a map, or in front of somebody's house where you could ask for directions. At the next fork he saw a hitchhiker, probably some nut judging by the clothes. He didn't have anywhere he needed to be. Nowhere he wanted to be for that matter. He let off the gas, coming to a stop about ten feet past the hitcher. The guy walked up to the passenger door. He was short, the open window came up to his chest. The bowler hat and the jacket weren't bad, although not even a golfer would wear that shirt.
He smiled and spoke, "I'm Whistler. Thanks for stopping Ben. We need to talk."
Ben considered flooring it, but decided he didnt' have a reason not to listen. He cut the engine. No point in wasting gas. "You have until I lose interest or get pissed off. Go."
"Now that's not fair, you're already pissed off about your aunt's situation."
"What do you know about that?" Ben said through gritted teeth.
"I know that it stinks that you can't help. I also know someone somewhere that you CAN help. Are You willing to come with me?"
"What do I need to do?" Ben asked warily.
"Break a lock and maybe bust a few deserving heads" Whistler answered casually.
Ben thought about it. Given his mood, it sounded good. Too good. "What's the catch?"
"You might die."
"I figured that much. Anything I'm gonna be mad at you about later?"
Whistler shifted his weight uneasily before answering, "Possibly".
"Figures. Give me enough details that I'm not going to feel like you've tricked me when I find out whatever it is you don't tell me; or this conversation is over."
Whistler's eyes bugged out as he stared at Ben.
"You won't believe me."
"That's your problem." Ben drawled. He narrowed his eyes before continuing, "Now spill."
Whistler sighed. This was NOT going well, he needed help fast and if he told him all he wanted to know... He didn't want to think what the powers would do to him. Well, they were desparate, and they'd already ruined his day. Why not? "I need you to help a bunch of teenagers save the world from demons, vampires, and various things that go bump in the night."
"This world, or another earth?"
"Huh? You mean you believe me?"
"No, but it's still a valid question."
"How'd you know to ask that, anyway?"
"I'm a geek. I read a lot. Prove to me that you aren't crazy and that this isn't a joke. Give me enough information and I'll give you an answer."
Whistler pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. He was already regretting this. What was D'Hoffryn thinking? Wait a minute.... One look at D'Hoffryn would settle the matter of sanity; Not to mention whether or not Ben could deal with the wierd. They could use D'Hoffryn's windows to fill in the rest. Snapping his fingers in triumph, he turned back to Ben. "Will you come with me; to a place where I can satisfy your conditions? Once you're filled in I'll bring you back to this time and place, if your answer is no.
Ben thought for a moment before replying, "If you'll bring me back here like you say, then yes, I'll go."
"Take my hand."
Ben warily reached out.
Whistler smiled and said cheerfully "Okay", with his other hand he snapped his fingers. The seatbelt retracted in the empty truck, just as a blue pickup came into view.
Ben felt the sensation of falling. This soon changed to the sensation of landing on a hard stone floor. He groaned as he sat up. Whistler was looking down at him. "Oops."
Ben glared up at him. "You aren't making the best impression; although teleporting DOES improve your credibility."
A voice spoke from across the room. "And what do I do for his credibility?"
Ben turned towards the voice.