Fun and Games
Fun and GamesHe raised his muzzle and sniffed the air, scenting his prey, as he slunk along the ground, careful not to rustle the greenery around him and give away his position. The edge of the plains gave way to flora intensive scenery faster than he expected. It was hot and sweaty and truthfully, wearing fur was probably not a good choice, but it allowed him to move around undetected by Charlie and that made up for a lot. His four legs made barely a sound as they danced over the forest floor following the spoor of his target. He approached the river slowly, using every ounce of stealth he had. The prey had stopped for a drink from the orange river and that was its fatal error. He pounced, startling the full tray of breakfast into motion, but it was far too late. The eggs couldn't escape with the sausage on its back, likewise the toast was crippled by the butter and grape jelly clinging to it. Once more the prey had fallen to his elite hunting skills and now he would feast!
"Good Morning, Master Harris. It's almost seven am and you were up a bit late with Master J'onn, so I thought breakfast in bed was in order. One can't start the day without proper sustenance after all." Alfred bustled around the room preparing clothes and food for the waking dimensional traveler simultaneously and with little effort.
"Good Morning, Alfred. The food smells great, but can we skip the Harris? The only Mr. Harris I know is someone I try my best to be nothing like and Master brings up a lot of bad memories for those of us who grew up on a Hellmouth."
"I suppose so. What would you like to be called," the ever efficient British butler asked, while setting a tray of food in Xander's lap with one hand and passing him a copy of the daily paper with the other.
Xander smiled broadly. He'd been a bit afraid of offending Alfred, but both those words made him uncomfortable and he was glad it wasn't going to be a problem. "This is a whole new world, so I can be anyone I want to be, unfortunately even here Hugh Hefner is taken. I know, call me Bond, James Bond."
Alfred paled and his hands trembled for a second, before he regained control of himself and suddenly in place of the Wayne's most trusted servant was a very, very dangerous man. "How did you know?"
"Know," Xander asked dumbly, wondering if someone had changed the script on him and not given him the new one.
Alfred didn't say a word; he just studied him with a steely gaze that quickly flushed all the sleep from his system.
"I didn't know that Bond actually existed here," Xander said carefully, as he puzzled out what was going on and tried to fit the pieces together. "But I know you can't be him. He was much too... exuberant to ever retire. He either died in the saddle or vanished on a case. If you want my opinion, he's probably frozen on ice somewhere, waiting for his version of Dr. Evil to show back up."
"Sorry, I forgot you aren't native to this dimension. Old reflexes, you understand." He seemed to fade a bit and suddenly he was just Alfred again. "I must apologize for my behavior, it was quite unseemly, but in my defense it was a bit of a shock. Even Master Bruce doesn't know about my past."
Xander blinked as the adrenalin rush faded. "Batman uses a lot of really high tech and hidden gadgets, built into practically everything he owns. Your middle name wouldn't happen to begin with a 'Q', would it?"
Alfred seemed to be debating with himself for a moment before he answered, "No, it's Roger...with an' R'."
The dark haired young man nodded and smiled. "Enough about the past, it's just one more thing I'll keep mum on while I'm here," Xander's mind skipped to a possible solution to something he'd worried about not being able to change. "Like the fact that the Joker will shoot Barbra Gordon in the back and paralyze her from the waist down sometime in the future or his later brainwashing of another of BMW’s adopted offspring. There just aren't enough beautiful redheads in this world to risk losing one to an accident in the hospital if the surgery doesn't go as planned and if that’s avoided with enough force the other kid’ll be in the clear."
"Quite. Accidents do happen, for instance the chemical smilex is rather unstable and someone who experiments with it could have an allergic reaction to a common chemical and expire," Alfred suggested. "Of course there is also the strange fact that the Joker is quite pale, like Solomon Grundy, that zombie that shows up around Gotham every couple of months."
Xander's grin threatened to consume his head. "It's a shame, but accidents do happen and I doubt the courts would really come down all that hard on someone who was just defending himself... even if it was with a battle axe."
Xander had no moral qualms about killing someone like the Joker. That... man had killed hundreds of men, women, and children via gas and bombs alone. As far as the brown haired Scooby was concerned the Joker was a demon mislabeled as a man, who just hadn't been to hell yet or a 'dead man walking' if he ever got within axe's reach. He thought it was rather nice that there wasn't the slightest doubt that the Joker was evil, it was a nice change from home, where good and evil were a bit more subjective and harder to pin down at times.
"What would you like to be called?" Alfred switched back to 'butler mode', as the disposal business seemed to be settled for the moment.
"Just call me, Xander, all my friends do, even the ones trying to kill me," He said cheerfully and much too Bond-like in Alfred's opinion.
Batman watched Alfred and Xander plot the Joker's death on a hidden monitor, with no visible sign of anger or concern. Emotions were for displaying when you could use them to shape other people's opinions, not for private use, even if Bruce tended to disagree with him.
He'd saved people's lives that the world really could do without before and likely would again. The line he treaded was a thin one, but to deviate from his path risked making him more of a monster then the Joker could ever hope to be.
Batman quickly went over the files he had on Agent R, retired, of the British government and noted his license was still active. If Alfred decided to take unilateral action... he could legally do so, even on American soil. Best to avoid exposing Alfred's past life if it could be avoided, not only would it draw unneeded attention to Bruce, but it would cost him one of the few people even he couldn't do without, as Alfred would have to move to cover somewhere else if exposed, for his own protection.
The rapid tapping of keys filled the Bat-cave, as Batman funded grants for three doctors who were working on nerve regeneration and two more that were working on incorporating cybernetic systems into paraplegics to restore lost function. That done, he quickly pulled up a list of options from his 'better than dead' menu, debating on the choice between 'Phantom Zone Projector' and 'Chemically Induced Amnesia' in case it became necessary.
Wiping someone's mind was almost the same as killing them, but almost WAS within his path.
He also wrote a note, to remind himself to run a search for Dr. Evil sometime in the future, when he had a little more time to search for future problems.
Xander stared out the window with more than a little awe, as J'onn (AKA The Martian Manhunter) watched with amusement. He could understand what Xander was feeling, it was hard not to when you're a telepath, but for him it was just business as usual. The space station was just a convenient place to monitor the Earth from. Of course they'd be at the opposite ends of the spectrum if they were in one of the forests on Earth. J'onn still found the sight of so much green and vibrant life to be awe inspiring himself.
"OK, enough with the star gazing, let's go grab Plastic Man and see if he'll sign on," Xander said with a grin, carrying his battle axe like it was a baseball bat.
J'onn shrugged. "Why Plastic Man in particular, I mean, I could see asking Vixen, as she is a world class model and probably has plans to go into film at some point, but why Plastic Man?"
"Because Plastic Man is also a semi-decent shape shifter and a bit of a ham, so he'd jump at the chance to get to play on the big screen and could handle several roles in the same movie without anyone being the wiser until they saw the credits. We'd also save a bit on special effects, as he can stretch his neck and make it look like his head's been chopped off."
"Good point. Can he act?"
"Doesn't matter, I have a great idea for enhancing everyone's acting abilities," Xander smirked.
"Really, how so," J'onn cocked a nonexistent eyebrow at him.
"Simple. You project a light telepathic-trance-thingy at them, so they can feel like it's real and not just an act. I had a girlfriend who wanted to be an actress and she said the hardest part of acting was suspending disbelief and getting into a role. With a little telepathic cue, anyone can act like a professional."
"Seems a bit... invasive."
"Not if it's strictly voluntary and the point of watching a movie is to get into the movie and pretend it's real. If it works, than making the movie could be even more fun than watching it."
J'onn was about to question him on basic human motivation when everything went to hell, almost literally.
"DEMON", Xander yelled, his eyes flickering amber as he swung with all his might at the yellow horned figure in front of him.
Faith had realized how much she didn't know about the group she was depending on to back her up and keep the world safe, so she begun to ask question and she really wasn't liking the answers she was getting. It wasn't so much the fact that Xander was the one who came up with the plans or did just the right thing at the right time, it was the fact that they all held that role in turn and with Xander missing they were going to start misfiring like an engine soaked in saltwater overnight. The group had pulled off some amazing feats, but it was the group that had done it, not just the slayer alone and Buffy seemed to have missed that point.
"So, let me get this straight... X came up with the plan, Cord helped him pull it off, Wolfy figured out where to go, and all Buffy did was point and pull the trigger."
"I killed it. What more do you need to know? I mean, sure everyone pitched in, but I'm sure I could have got the job done without help, it just would have taken a lot longer and cost a lot of lives," Buffy explained. "Working together we just get everything done faster and better."
Faith rubbed her temples and even Wesley looked a bit pained. "Buff, last time it was done, cost an army and a slayer and that was when people lived really far apart so feedin' the giant smurf took a long time. Judge Dread woulda been at full power in about five minutes and unstoppable, just with the daily crowd from the mall feedin' him. Your contribution was something anyone coulda done, point and click, and then let the bad guy get away to try and destroy humanity again, because you still wanted to bone him."
"I'm sure I could have reached him if I'd just had a bit more time," Buffy complained.
Wesley was once again contemplating calling up another slayer by strangling a current one. "Miss Summers, as Angel himself has stated, he was gone. All you did was try and appeal to a demon's better nature while he was trying to kill every man, woman, and child on the planet."
"If Angel wasn't in there, then why does he remember what happened to Angelus during all that, but not where Angel was in the afterlife?"
"I don't have an answer for that, but all I can tell you is that we know where his soul wasn't and that was in Angelus. Willow did the spellwork to prove it."
"As fascinating as this conversation is, we really should get back to searching for a way to locate Xander," Giles sighed. It wasn't that he wasn't curious about the answers himself, but he'd long ago accepted the fact that Buffy was unable to see that there was a difference between the body and soul. She was one of the shallow, popularity obsessed teens that LA and in fact most of the more influential areas, tended to produce and while being ‘called’ may have enlightened her as to the existence of demons, it didn't change the fact that she still based a lot of her decisions on style rather than substance.
"Nothing here," Oz said, setting aside a stack of old leather bound books on tracking and travel rituals.
"I found one that should work," Willow said, excitedly. "All it needs is to have someone... that loves... or is that has loved... physical, so sex then."
"Here, draw this on the floor with chalk while I figure this out," Willow commanded, laying the book open on the table in front of her so Oz could see what she was looking at.
Wesley looked at the book over her shoulder. "I'm not going to be of much help with this, I'm afraid. My knowledge of demonic subtext is atrocious when dealing with the eastern breeds."
Giles leaned and sighed, "Same here, I never could grasp their differentiation between physical and emotional adverbs."
"It's ok, I can get most of it from the context. It means someone who's had sex with him," Willow said firmly.
Everyone turned towards Cordelia.
"I didn't," She stated flatly.
"Not even a little," Buffy asked hopefully, holding her thumb and forefinger up, a couple of centimeters apart.
The red haired hacker jumped in, before she could answer, "The spell to tell who it'd work for is easy." Willow rattled of a series of phrases in a liquid sounding language.
"The people who it applies to will glow," She finished.
Faith examined herself and sighed in relief when nothing happened, she so didn't want to get tangled up in this group's, apparently really complicated, social life.
"Guess it's a no go then," Oz said, as he finished the diagram on the floor.
"It just takes a..." Willow trailed off as Cordy began to glow and looked down and saw herself glowing as well.
Oz would have been upset, but he was too busy trying to figure out why he was lighting up the air around himself.
Cordy took in the fact that everyone but Wesley was lit up like Broadway quite calmly, for about five seconds. "Xander, you, you...YOU, MAN HO!"
The demon Prince Etrigan threw himself backwards, as the axe creased his Kevlar tunic and ducked under the risky follow up swing at his head, that left his attacker unbalanced for a moment and gave him time to prepare his own attack.
Xander had regained his balance and choked up on his axe for close quarters fighting, while Etrigan had taken the spare second to gleefully call up two handfuls of Hellfire to roast his foe alive with.
J'onn was on his knees from the telepathic feedback of trying to calm the two from their incandescent fury and he was wondering if maybe, just maybe, he shouldn't have altered Xander's instincts the way he'd requested last night.
Etrigan pulled back his arm to fling hellfire on his foe, while Xander decided to rush in under his arms for a groin shot.
They were both to be disappointed however, as bands of red, green, and yellow energy suddenly slammed them into opposite sides of the corridor and pinned them in place.
"What in the Sam Hill is going on here," Green Lantern yelled, with Star Girl and Zatanna backing him up and helping pin the two fighters down.
Xander gestured towards Etrigan with the only thing he could move, his head, fortunately he'd had enough head injuries that he could should shake off the most recent blow with little trouble. "Demon," he announced calmly.
Everyone turned to the yellow horned figure, who returned the gesture and replied in the same tone, "Demon hunter, that is he. A matched pair, don't you see?"
"Do you mind, we were kinda in the middle of something here," the Sunnydale native replied, like the three had just interrupted the two having coffee, while he was wondering why this demon looked so familiar.
"With his statement, I do agree. Private business we have, him and me," The demon growled, annoyed at the interference.
"Damn, a rhyming demon? This is like a mercy killing," Xander muttered, as he began to recall the fact that Etrigan was part of the League, even if he was from a series that Xander didn't follow, not liking the idea of a demon hero.
"Stand down, the both of you," the green lantern commanded, as the bands of energy holding the two slowly faded away.
"Why for the eyes, did you swing? My brow ridge protects, from most weapons' stings," Etrigan asked curiously, dissipating the fire he had summoned.
"If you follow the same plane as the nose, you can usually get under the ridge and slice open the eyes," Xander said, figuring the demon for a tooth and claw type who didn't use many bladed weapons and happy to talk shop, since he'd recalled that Etrigan wasn't a threat.
"Why for the stomach did you swing first, surely gouging out my eyes would have hurt worse?"
"Always go for the larger target first. You have a better chance of hitting and if you had to hold your guts in with one hand, then it'd give me the upper hand, no pun intended. The stomach is always the first area to attack on an unknown demon type, then the arms and the eyes, next the back of the knees and then the neck. It's nice to kill things on one blow, but you can't always rely on that, so best to cripple, then kill, then dismember, and if you have time, finish it off with a nice cremation," Xander laid his axe back on his shoulder while explaining his strategy.
"What was this about," GL demanded.
"He's not that bright, is he," Xander asked.
Etrigan laughed, "Will alone is all the rings heed. His brain apparently he does not need."
Xander snickered as he helped J'onn to his feet. "You, ok?"
"I thing I sprained something trying to calm you two," the Martian muttered, rubbing his temples.
"Trying your will against us was foolish, for in the end it is our passions that rule us."
"So, playing the hero gig, how's that working for you," Xander asked, ignoring the three leaguers who were demanding answers.
"Annoying and frustrating by the turn, when really all I want is to return to my hell and enjoy the burn," Etrigan's clenched fists were outlined in flame for a moment.
"Ahhh, so it's not by choice?"
"Cursed I am, never to be free, until Morgan Le'Fay has been ended, you see?"
"That's a pain. I'm pretty sure her end is scheduled for sometime within the next five years thought," Xander said thoughtfully.
"How can you claim to know Fate's book, did one of the Endless offer a look?"
"That's... not far wrong, come to think of it. Peaking at Fate's book is just about right, but by being here I alter things." Xander scratched his head.
"To alter fate and stump destiny, you would have to be a soul that was truly free. To foresee you'd have to come, from someplace closer to Hell and Heaven, blended in one."
"Closer to Hell than Heaven, sounds about right, though we do have a few champions of the light, so maybe. I'm one of the guardians of the gate to Hell, if you want to make my life sound cool or the guy who brings the donuts to the meetings of the gatekeepers if you don't." Xander snickered, his life really did sound better than it actually was, when you put it that way.
The black ex-marine turned green lantern fell silent, as J'onn nodded at his questioning glance. Zatanna's eyes grew wide as she caught the gist of things, while Star Girl just wandered off, figuring the fighting was done and she had homework to do.
"Infernal realms I wish to conquer, being stuck on this world isn't worth the bother," Etrigan snorted. "Glad will I be, when my hell again I see. The fighters here aren't much sport, not enough blood is shed in this line of work."
"I hear ya. Batsy already told me I can't go around lopping off heads. Kinda limits my options. I did call dibs on killing any demons and undead we run across, rare though they are around here."
Etrigan sighed morosely, "My armies are getting fat and lazy, memories of battle fast gone hazy."
"Ahhh. So, what you need is someplace to invade and cause some decent slaughter. Say, someplace with strong fighters who enjoy death and destruction," Xander replied, with a downright evil grin as an idea occurred to him.
"A place in this universe, filled with such sin? Sounds like a place for some fun with my kin," Etrigan grinned like a shark.
"Oh, yeah. I think it'd be just up your alley. The fighters there are on a par with vampires in the lower ranks, but much better armed and the upper ranks can give kryptonians a run for their money."
"Turning a planet into a charnel house of slaughter, are you sure your conscious it will not bother," the demon asked, curious about the other's motivation.
"Nah. That group is like a boil on this universe's ass. All they do is cause death and destruction to others, so I think it's only fair to arrange a little for them as well. Plus, as a bonus, there is always the chance you'll wipe each other out, making the universe that much safer," Xander explained, horrifying the leaguers around him at his callous disregard for what amounted to mass genocide of two races.
Etrigan laughed long and loudly, enjoying talking with a kindred soul, even if they were on different sides. Placing a hand on Xander's shoulder he flared his flame, just enough to warm without burning him.
Xander rubbed his shoulder, thinking it felt like he'd just gotten a bit sunburned. "What was that about?"
"I marked you with Belial's flame as a warning to my kin, that turning you into a demon would bring them into a battle they could not win. On the side of the angels you tread with a demon's glee, but turned to my side you'd be competition I do not need."
The Sunnydaler rolled his eyes. "Thanks for the vote of confidence. The planet I was talking about is called Apokolips and is ruled by a big grey guy named Darkseid, and when dealing with him it is best to go for the eyes first. His main weapon is an eye blast called an Omega Beam and he usually knocks Superman around with it. They should have some files on him and his people, so you can prepare for a large scale battle and don't be afraid to leave the world as a burned out cinder when you're done. In fact, if you don't mind, I'd suggest salting the ground before you leave."
Etrigan smiled wistfully. "A vacation I would love to take, but Merlin's Curse I can not break. All my actions in this realm require, either heroic bent or direction towards making Morgan expire."
Xander nodded. Compared to dealing with trickily worded prophecies and cryptic advice, this was rather easy to deal with. "By taking couple of months off and invading another world, a world very, very far from here, Morgan will assume that you have broken the curse, since she no doubt knows what it is by now. By taking the time off and appearing to be free of the curse she'll dismiss you as a threat. After all, would an uncursed demon seek to fulfill a duty imposed on him by another? When you do return she may even seek to ally with you, thinking that you would join her to spite Merlin's goal since he cursed you and that provides the perfect opportunity to slip a knife in her back and free yourself. Betrayal and the death of the person that's kept you trapped here, what demon could ask for more than that?"
The demon's grin split his head in two, a fact that he cheerfully ignored, before it slowly faded and a serious frown adorned his fanged visage. "I hope in this universe you plan not to tarry, for you plot like one of the fae though I'll certainly not call you a fairy, but I must admit it's making me more than a little wary."
Xander shrugged. "I'm stuck here until either the people from home, or someone from here, figures out how to send me back. I don't have any complicated plots in the works, just having a little fun now that I have some time off and I have to admit this is even better than what I had planned for the summer. It's probably best just to consider me a guy on vacation, who missed his connecting flight."
The demon prince felt a strange chill at the hunter's words, but couldn't figure out why.
Giles sighed and cleaned his glasses, while everyone waited for Cordelia's rant to run down.
"I can't believe you all slept with him, and you," she snarled at Oz. "He had sex with your girlfriend so what, you decide the best thing to do is nail him?"
Oz just raised an eyebrow and said, "Sorry, the weekly Scooby orgy got out of hand. I blame the booze."
Cordelia fell into her seat and stared around her in open mouthed shock, before replying in a sad voice, "You guys were doing social things together and you didn't invite me?"
The repeated thumping of Giles head on the counter almost covered Wesley clearing his throat to get everyone's attention.
"I believe Miss Rosenberg simply got the translation wrong. The spell is showing an emotional connection, not a physical one. Apparently Mr. Harris cares a great deal for all of you."
Faith smiled as the warm glow around her seemed to settle inside her a little. "Damn, no love for the new watcher I guess."
Buffy smiled happily. She’d thought the glow had signified what had happened when Xander had gone all animally and had been on top of her, but knowing he cared for her, even after everything that had happened, did mean a lot to her.
Willow quickly spoke up, "Hey, I'm sure Xander'll love you too, he just doesn't know you yet. So, no hard feelings ok?"
Wesley decided to imitate Giles' normal response to the teens and took off his reading glasses and began cleaning them, unable to come up with any reasonable reply. AN: I think this chapter went quite well. If you think Xander is OOC, remember he's in a comic book world, so in some ways it's not quite real to him. Add in the fact that DC brings people back to life quite a bit and you'll see why Xander's so free with his actions. Buffy isn't OOC, I'm basing her behavior on canon. She actually was quite bitchy around about the Zeppo episode. I'm doing my best to make her believable without demonizing her.