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Quantum Leap of Faith

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Summary: After the Scoobies close the Hellmouth and banish the First at the end of Season Sux Part Deux, someone makes Xander a very different job offer; one that could effectively exile him from the Scoobies forever.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > Fantasy > Shadow WorldGreywizardFR1315,2412303,6497 Nov 077 Nov 07Yes
Disclaimer: All of the really good characters belong to Crack-Head Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc., I'm just borrowing them for a while. There is no intent to profit from this. Only the story is mine, and even that is negotiable.

Category: Another insane trip through the halls of my muse's imagination. A semi-sort-of-crossover with the Shadoworld RPG supplement.

Time frame: Post 'Chosen.'

Character Bashing: No real bashing, but some of the characters may not come across as very likeable, since I'm trying to make everyone mesh with their Season Seven incarnations.

~~~

Corbandom
Continent of Haestra
Planet of Kulthea

A semi-contemporary elsewhere in the Matrix of Realities


“Your pardon, milord, but I have just received a report that the Dale’s Fist has been attacked and seriously injured while on patrol. Apparently, he and three other members of the Guard are the only survivors.”

“Exactly what do you mean by 'seriously injured,' Ashford?” the salt-and-peppered haired man behind the large wooden desk immediately demanded, the outwardly calm demeanor belied by the intense concern evident in his eyes and lowered brow.

“Unknown at this time, milord,” the younger man standing before him replied. “Preliminary reports said that the Fist had received several serious injuries, including at least one head wound, but I am currently waiting for confirmation of the report and more detailed information on the incident from the hospital. All I am completely certain of, at this point in time, is that His Lordship was ‘ported to the Imperial Hospital for evaluation and treatment of his injuries. The ER trauma team is working on him right now.”

“Who else knows of the incident?”

“The other surviving members of his team, the Guard and paramedic teams who responded to the call, the hospital’s ER personnel, our people in the communications room and the two forensic teams I’ve ordered out to examine the area of the attack, sir.”

“Blast,” the older man muttered under his breath as he rubbed his face. “The snoops are almost certain to have gotten word that something’s happened to him by this time.”

Shaking his head and letting out a low sigh of resignation, he looked up at his adjutant and began issuing orders.

“All right then. All inquiries concerning Lord Calendar’s injuries are to be routed directly through to me, and no one else is to make *any* comments, whatsoever, regarding his condition or the situation responsible for them, under any conditions," the older man directed.

"And I mean absolutely no one, Ashford!” he half-snarled.

“Make this crystal clear to everyone: I don’t care if the Queen Mother herself calls to inquire about Lord Calendar; anyone who speaks a single word about this to anyone not directly involved in the investigation, without clearing it with me first, will end up studying the migration habits of the penguins around our Antarctic base for the rest of their extremely long career, if not their life!”

“I understand perfectly, milord,” Ashford nodded. “I have already issued instructions stating that this situation is being considered an issue relating to the security of the Realm and any leaks will be treated as treason,” he noted.

“A good point and some excellent thinking, my boy,” the older man nodded his approval. “Can you please contact the other members of the Group, inform them about what has happened and arrange for them all to return here as soon as is feasible.

“While you do that, I will contacting Lady Calendar and informing her of the incident,” he continued. “I will then escort her to the hospital and await the arrival of the other Companions with her.”

“Yes, milord.”

“I want to see the forensics teams’ reports the second you receive them, Ashford,” he ordered, as an expression of barely controlled rage took momentary control of his face. “If there is a single speck of evidence that even suggests that Featherstone is involved in this in any way, I want him in irons in the deepest dungeon this place has before he even realizes he’s been arrested, understand me?”

“Perfectly, milord,” Ashford nodded as he let the slightest indication of his own feelings become visible for a moment, his face mirroring his superior’s. “Sir, my sister and her family were among those rescued from the Hrusti last year. Lord Kalderash led the teams storming their redoubt, sir, and personally killed all four of the raiders who had been attempting to slaughter the hostages.

“If there is the slightest shred of evidence linking Lord Featherstone to this attack, milord, I promise you, I will personally make sure that he will be available to answer any questions you might wish to pose to him.”

“Very good, Ashford.” The answer was accompanied by a wolf’s-head smile. “Carry out your duties.”

“Indeed, milord. It will be my pleasure”

~~~

The No-Name Bar
Los Angeles, CA


September 1, 2003
1:25 PM

{ Merry Labor Day. Whoopty-freakin'-doo! } Xander thought to himself somewhat bitterly as he sat quietly at a table situated in the rear of the bar, contemplating his no-longer-frosty mug of draft beer as he idly munched some pretzels (the peanuts and cashews were long gone from the bowl) and paid minor attention to the television chronicling Cincinnati's efforts as they played at Milwaukee.

{ What a joke, } he reflected to himself as he munched on another pretzel, { What am I supposed to be celebrating? It's not like there's anything for me to labor at, even if the guys would let me help out or anything. }

His thoughts drifted back to the conversation, or rather, the sermon he'd gotten from Buffy and Willow shortly after they'd arrived in L.A. and taken advantage of the offer of assistance they'd received courtesy of Angel, now that he and the rest of the former Angel Investigations staff were running Wolfram and Hart, Evil Law Firm Extraordinaire.

They'd essentially informed him that, in their oh-so-expert opinions, he should relax and take some time off to recover from all the physical and mental stress and exhaustion he'd been suffering from as a result of the past several years, all of which had been significantly compounded by both his injury and Anya's death when they finally succeeded in closing the Hellmouth and Calling all the newly Awakened Slayers.

Never mind the fact that it seemed as though everyone else involved was going to be up to their eyebrows in setting up a new Council to take the place of the old one that the First had blown to itty-bitty pieces.

Giles was already making plans to head back to England to reestablish as many contacts as he could with high-level people who already had some knowledge of what was lurking back in the shadows, Wood was making plans to head to Cleveland, where the next most powerful open Hellmouth was located (and Faith was going to be tagging along with him, since the two of them seemed to have some kind of Slayer Oedipal Complex thing going on – something he personally found more than a little bit disturbing), Buffy was heading to Rome to 'oversee the efforts to contact and organize of all the Slayers Called in Europe,' while Willow and Kennedy were heading to Rio de Janeiro to do the same thing ( { and can anyone say boondoggle? } was the first thing he thought to himself after hearing about those two particular assignments), Dawn was going along with Giles to see about possibly finishing her education at some upper-crust English boarding school, and even Andrew (the backstabbing-friend-killer dweeb who seemed to believe that 'The X-Files' was actually a fact-filled documentary of the government's investigations into the weird and the wacky) was inked in to help, having been tasked with translating some of his less outrageous ideas for Slaying equipment into practical designs Slayers could use in the field.

As far as he could see, he was pretty much the only Sunnydale survivor who wasn't being incorporated into the new and improved Watcher's Council, Mark Two. It was looking more and more like everyone else had decided that he should be retired and put out to pasture, because he didn’t have anything of any significance to offer to the new organization.

Mostly, though, it was the fact that Buffy and Willow hadn't bothered to ask him what it was *he* wanted to do with his time now, or even actually ask him how he was feeling or how *he* wanted to deal with all of the physical and emotional trauma they'd finally noticed that he'd been suffering from for several years prior to Sunnydale's implosion, was what had really pissed him off.

No, once again, just like they'd done back in senior year and their first year in college, they'd simply decided for him what would be best and then gone ahead and begun acting as though he'd be delighted with the results.

He supposed that his initial eruption of anger at their unfortunately not-at-all uncharacteristic behavior hadn't really done all that much to change their minds about their conclusions, or leave them inclined to want to discuss things with him in greater detail at some later point in time, either.

After all, calling someone a whining, overbearing prima donna with dictatorial tendencies and delusions of competence who couldn't see what was actually going on around her because she was too self-absorbed and had her head up her ass wasn't something guaranteed to bring that someone around to your way of thinking.

And, he also had to admit, that then referring to the second person interfering in your life (and a redhead, no less), as a sycophantic suck-up with their own problems with megalomania, far too much power and not nearly enough wisdom to use it properly for either her own or the world’s good did absolutely nothing to improve that particular relationship, either.

Oddly enough, for some strange reason, things had gone straight downhill in their relationships after that.

So, as a result of his admittedly somewhat childish display of temper, he was currently occupying the top nine spaces on both Buffy's and Willow's shit lists, with the tenth spot reserved for anyone who even tried to discuss his situation with them.

No one involved with the current ongoing efforts to rebuild the Council was even willing to talk to him, lest either of the Big Two find out and consign them to whatever was the Council equivalent of Siberia that current week. He’d been frozen out of any possible official position in the newly created Council within twelve hours of the argument’s conclusion, since neither Giles nor anyone else involved in the nascent organization’s formation wanted to be the next person added to either woman’s shit list

Even Dawn had hit a brick wall in her attempts to mediate the ongoing Cold War that had developed between him and his former two closest friends, and with her now busy getting ready to begin classes at one of the more prestigious and elite British finishing schools that Giles's connections had enabled him to get her into, she was, quite rightly, more concerned with reestablishing herself as a relatively 'normal' high school student preparing to enter university.

Which left him on the outside, looking in and with no clear way to rectify his situation.

He was completely and royally screwed.

And it was just as much his fault as anyone else's, he had reluctantly been forced to admit to himself.

It was as much his usually well-hidden, and at times exceedingly vicious, barbed tongue that was responsible for his current state of affairs as it was Buffy's and Willow's self-righteous outrage at his (not completely untrue) descriptions of each of them.

But he missed them.

Each morning when he woke up and once again remembered their estrangement, an echo of the feelings he'd experienced back during their freshman year of college ran through him again, albeit much stronger than it was back then.

He missed the camaraderie they'd shared in high school and the feeling that they were all one big, admittedly somewhat dysfunctional, family.

Although, judging by the complete lack of response each of his last three attempts to apologize and reconcile with them had produced, it looked like neither of the girls were at all eager to get things back to the way they were. It would appear that they wanted to leave him twisting in the wind for as long as it took for their abraded egos to recover from the (at least from his viewpoint, not completely unjustified) criticism he’d provided.

So be it, then, he decided as he finished off his now-warm beer. If they wanted to keep up the pissing contest, then that was fine with him.

Well, not fine, precisely, since he did regret having gotten involved in this whole mess. But he'd at least made an effort (several of them, actually) to try and reconcile; if and when the two of them finally decided they wanted to see him again, they'd have to be the ones reaching out to him.

"Excuse me, but you are Alexander Harris, aren't you?”

Xander blinked as he glanced up at the vaguely familiar voice that had broken into his ruminations, then blanched as belated recognition kicked in and reflexes honed on the Hellmouth made him jump up, knocking his chair over as he took a step back, away from the dark-haired woman who bore such a disquieting resemblance to the now long dead Jenny Calendar.

"I'm sorry," the woman said as she held up a hand in semi-apology. "I didn't mean to startle you."

"Uhm, no, it's not your fault," Xander immediately replied as he waved away the approaching waitress coming to see what caused the disturbance. "I was just surprised, that's all.

"You, uh, you look a lot like someone I used to know," he semi-explained as he stood there staring at her and marveling at the resemblance.

Her reply did nothing at all to reassure him.

"Yes, I know," the brunette nodded acknowledgement. "I was hoping for a more positive reaction because of that, actually."

Seeing his surprise at that admission, followed by a quick glance at the propped open side door, she immediately shook her head, as if to deny his unspoken thoughts.

"No, I'm not daylight-challenged in any manner," she said, while trying to appear as non-threatening as possible. "Do you happen to have any holy water with you?" she then asked.

At his silent nod, she slowly extended her hand as she asked, "Would you let me have your flask then?

"So there won’t be any question in your mind as to my – status," she offered, standing quietly and not making any move that might be considered even vaguely threatening.

"Okay."

Maintaining a careful eye on her, Xander cautiously pulled out his small squeeze bottle of holy water and tossed it across the table into her outstretched hand, then watched as she unscrewed the cap and took a small sip of the contents.

"Are you now satisfied that I am not any kind of undead or evil demonic shapeshifter?" she asked as she looked him in the eye.

"Yeah, I guess so. At least as far as the undead demonic type being goes," he reluctantly agreed.

"That still doesn't rule out you being a normal, everyday-type evil human being, though," he pointed out.

"True," the Jenny look-alike agreed with a short nod and the barest of grins.

"Would you mind if I join you?" she asked as she indicated the table he'd been sitting at. "The explanation for my presence here is going to require more than a few words, and I'd prefer to avoid drawing any more attention to us than we've already received."

"Yeah, that'd be okay. Take a seat," he agreed. "You'll have to excuse me for not doing the whole gentlemanly thing, but I'd prefer to keep some distance between us until I'm sure you're not looking to kill me or bring about an apocalypse or anything like that, okay?"

"That's fine, Alexander," the brunette laughed softly. "I can well understand your concerns. I'm not sure I would handle a similar situation as well as you seem to be doing."

Their conversation was non-existent as Xander caught the attention of the waitress who had attempted to check on them a moment earlier and ordered two sodas, and they waited for her to deliver their drinks before attempting to discuss anything.

"All right, then," Xander nodded after taking a quick sip, "now that we have the requisite minimal politeness protocols out of the way, how about you tell me who you are and exactly what you looked me up for?"

"Very well," the woman returned his nod. A small shift seemed to pass over her and her manner changed to a more business-like mode.

“Now that we have, hopefully, at least tentatively established that I am not an evil, bloodsucking demon looking to devour your soul, I’d like to discuss the reasons I’ve shown up here to speak with you, and to make you an offer that I and the people I represent hope you will accept, if you don’t mind,” his visitor stated quietly.

“Okay. Just listening is all right, I suppose,” Xander hesitantly nodded his tentative agreement. “I’m not making any promises, you understand.”

“That is perfectly understandable, Alexander,” the other woman smiled at him reminding him again of the now long-deceased woman she so strongly resembled.

“First off, I will admit, as you have no doubt already deduced, my name is Janna Kalderash, and I am an alternate dimensional analogue of the woman you knew several years ago,” the brunette informed him as she stared him straight in the eye.

“It is because of who I am, together with several other reasons that we can discuss at a later time, that I was selected to meet with you.

“I am also a member of a group that also corresponds, to a more limited degree, with your so-called Scooby Gang, people from whom, if I understand your situation correctly, you are currently estranged,” she noted.

Seeing the frown and fleeting expression of pain that her words elicited from the youth seated across the table from her, Jenny immediately stretched out her hand, as if in consolation.

“I’m sorry to be so blunt, Alexander,” she apologized, “but it is precisely because of that aspect of your situation that our Seers have determined that I have come forward to meet and speak with you.

“You see, your counterpart in my homeworld is one of several people who are destined to hold particularly important roles in certain events that are currently unfolding and who have been recognized as being of major significance in a battle that will be fought in the not too distant future,” she continued her explanation.

“Our Seers have predicted that, without Alexander’s presence and participation, the likelihood of success for our group is diminished significantly.”

“So, what’s all that got to do with me?” Xander asked, his curiosity concerning his doppelganger quite definitely piqued at the revelation that the other was so vitally needed if his group was to succeed in whatever endeavor it was they were going to be involved in.

It was almost funny, actually; in some ways, it sounded as though his alternate was someone equivalent to Buffy or one of the other Champions that the Powers That Sat on Their Asses And Did Nothing were always so interested in. A situation completely opposite to the one he found himself living in, here.

{ At least, her Xander knows he’s important, in addition to being needed and wanted by the people he’s involved with, } he thought to himself, a bit bitterly and with more than a tinge of self-pity. { I could drop off the face of the earth here and no one but maybe Dawn would even notice. }

“Our Alexander was ambushed several days ago and critically injured,” Alt-Jenny continued her explanation, now looking as though she were holding in tears. “His injuries are such that he will be unable to participate in the upcoming battle and, as I have already informed you, without his presence, our chances of winning are greatly reduced.

“Since we know that you are apparently no longer currently affiliated with your group, I have come here to ask you to consider replacing our Alexander Harris among our ranks.”

Xander stared at the beautiful brunette currently watching him fro her position across the table, momentarily stunned by the revelation she had just dropped on him regarding the reason for her sudden presence here in town.

“You’re kidding, right?” he finally managed to respond, once he felt he was able to respond with gibbering like a buffoon. “This is all some sort of elaborate joke Buffy and Willow have set up, isn’t it?”

“No, Alexander, I am not kidding. I am deadly serious,” Alt-Jenny declared, her face as serious as any he had ever seen.

“I am here because we need to find someone to replace our Alexander, someone whose soul is as closely matched to his as possible, because he is never going recover from the injuries he suffered during that attack I just spoke of,” she went on say, and this time, a small tear escaped unnoticed from her left eye to run down her cheek.

“We are still uncertain as to exactly what happened to him during that attack, but one thing our medical personnel now are completely certain of is that our companion’s soul has moved on. Alexander's body continues to function, but it is, and will continue to be, nothing more than a living, breathing shell,” she declared. “His mind and soul are gone, and they will not be returning.

“Ever.”

For a brief instant, Xander felt as though he could see through the controlled exterior the woman across from him had thrown up, and he felt almost overwhelmed by the mind-numbing sorrow, devastating sense of loss and the almost uncontrollable rage he saw surging within the self-contained brunette.

Then he was back in his own head, and wondering just what he was getting himself into, again.

“Damn,” Xander commented quietly into the silence that followed her words.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” he said, realizing as he spoke just how inadequate the words were to console the grieving woman.

“But even if you don’t take this into account,” he said, indicating the patch covering the empty eye socket, “I don’t know how much good I can be to you or your friends.

“Unless, of course, you need someone to build you a grandstand to sit on and watch that battle you were talking about. Carpentry and home repair have become something of a specialty for me over the past couple years,” he noted with a somewhat bitter grin.

“There’s nothing for you to worry about in that regard, Alexander,” Alt-Jenny replied in an apparent effort to reassure him . "We are not attempting to recruit you because you are a mighty warrior, although I believe that I can truly say that you already possess the heart of a warrior, even if you do not currently possess any equivalent combat expertise.

“What it is we are in truly desperate need of is an Alexander Lavelle Harris who embodies those qualities we consider the most significant and defining aspects of his character – a young man who is steadfast in his loyalties, unswerving in his devotion to the Light and indefatigable in his battle against his enemies,” she declared with a fervor that took him by surprise.

“If you do agree to help us, I promise you, you will be provided with all the knowledge and skills you could conceivably need in order to fight," she promised.

"Unfortunately, however," she then continued, "the manner by which you would gain that knowledge and skills would require that you physically merge with the currently comatose body of our Alexander.

"The ritual we would use would enable you to not only take possession of his body, but would also allow you to incorporate all of the knowledge he'd gained in the course of his life into your own mind, just as though you had learned that information yourself," she explained.

“One thing I need to tell you, though, Alexander,” Alt-Jenny took a moment to warn him, "is that if you do agree to do undergo this ritual and replace our Alexander – then the magics involved in the procedures will tie you irrevocably to my and Alexander's home world, and will make it yours, for the rest of your life.

“Even if you should desire to do so, you will never be able to simply return and take up your life again here in this, your native universe, once you have accomplished whatever challenges fate wishes to present you,” she cautioned.

“I'm not saying you couldn't leave for extended periods of time so you that you could come back and visit your friends here, if you wished, but you would always eventually feel a need to return to what will become your new homeworld. The magics entailed will see to that.”

“Whoa,” Xander said, somewhat anticlimactically, once his visitor had finished speaking. “That’s – certainly not what I had expected to hear when I got up this morning.

“I’m gonna need some time to think about this.”

“I understand, Alexander,” Alt-Jenny gave him a small, regretful half-smile. "Truly I do. Unfortunately, that is something that I cannot afford to provide, in any ample quantity.

“If I and my group are to have sufficient time to prepare whoever it is we might find to take our Alexander’s place, I need to know your answer by tomorrow,” she told him. “This will provide me with sufficient time to contact several of the other analogues that our Seers had suggested we speak with, should you decide not to accept, you see.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you that, but the responsibilities we bear sometimes dictate answers we would prefer not to give,” she said, in as kindly a tone as she could manage.

“Yeah, I kinda thought you’d say something like that,” Xander shook his head semi-regretfully as he looked his visitor in the eye. “Okay, then.

“Like I said, I need to think some things over. Meet me here tomorrow at lunch time and I'll let you know my answer then, okay?"

~~~

Once he got back to his apartment and looked around, though, he realized that he pretty much already knew what his decision was going to be.

He'd been living here for three months and it still didn't look like anything other than the furnished rental apartment it was. There were no decorations or other knick-knacks that he'd picked out for himself to make things seem more homey, no photographs of friends or family on the walls or shelves, no posters or even a calendar to mark off important events – nothing to indicate anything about the person who lived here.

If he left and never came back, the only thing his landlord would need to do to make the place suitable for the next tenant would be to empty the closets and give his stuff to some charity, vacuum the rugs, clean out the refrigerator and wipe down the bathroom.

With a resigned sigh, he sat down at the desk in the far corner of the living room, took out some paper and began making a list of things he needed to do.

~~~

It had taken him the rest of the afternoon and most of the evening to wrap things up properly.

He'd paid off the balance on his credit cards and then cancelled them, closed out his checking and savings accounts and spent several hours looking up and then dealing with a reputable law firm, because there wasn’t any way that he was going to let Angel or anyone associated with the Evil Law Firm from Hell (a name that was probably all too literally true) handle any of his business affairs.

He'd left all of his money – a quite sizable sum he'd inherited from Anya's estate and the various insurance policies relating to Sunnydale's abrupt disappearance – to Dawn in a rather involved trust, ensuring that she'd never need for anything ever again. She'd only gain access to the bulk of the remaining money after she graduated with at least one Master's Degree from an accredited college on a list he'd drawn up with his lawyers' assistance, but the monthly stipend he'd provided for her until that actually happened, though, would allow her to live rather comfortably for however long it took for her to accomplish that.

He'd left a letter for her which Mackenzie-Brackman would deliver the following day, explaining to her that he'd been presented with a request that he simply couldn't ignore – to help some people who needed his assistance – and that, although he wouldn't be able to contact her for a while, he would get back in touch with her at the earliest opportunity, once things had finally settled down for him.

He'd also enclosed along with Dawn's letter two short, almost formal letters that he'd left for Buffy and Willow, simply stating that he'd been offered an opportunity out of the country and that because of the nature of the work involved, he wouldn't be able to communicate with them for the foreseeable future, together with instructions for her to not give the letters to either of the addressees unless and until they actually questioned her regarding his whereabouts.

{ Let's just see how accurate that old 'out of sight, out of mind' saying really is, } he thought to himself, somewhat cynically, as he finished signing the last of the legal documents detailing his wishes regarding his estate.

Everyone else among his former associates he'd simply ignored, affording them the same consideration they'd given him.

He was smiling with what was almost relief as he found himself dropping off the key to his apartment at the realty company the next morning, crossing the final item off his checklist, so when he saw the solemn-looking brunette patiently waiting for him as he walked into the pub, he nodded to her and let a hesitant half-smile quirk his lips, an expression that quickly broadened to encompass his entire face as he saw the brilliant smile that lit up her face upon realizing what his greeting meant.

"I promise you, you will never regret this decision, Alexander," Alt-Jenny told him as she rose from her table to greet him with an enthusiastic hug.

"I kinda doubt I ever would," he replied quietly. "There's not a whole lot left for me here any more, so going somewhere I can actually accomplish something worthwhile is definitely of the good."

Following Alt-Jenny out of the bar and into the parking lot, he tensed the slightest bit as she stopped and then slid her arm around him as she simultaneously grasped an amulet she wore around her neck and murmured a phrase in some unrecognized, probably long-dead tongue.

The ensuing light show left him blinking for a moment, but his vision cleared quickly enough.

As he glanced around the large, rather Star Trek-ish-looking chamber he found himself and Alt-Jenny standing in and saw the solemn visages staring at him, some familiar and some not, he swallowed nervously and said the first thing that popped into his mind.

"Oh boy."


FIN

The End

You have reached the end of "Quantum Leap of Faith". This story is complete.

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