BigHead and others Disclaimer:
The characters depicted therein belong to their rightful owners, none of which are me. This is done for fun, not profit. Summary:
Every S.H.I.E.L.D. needs a S.W.O.R.D. Author Notes:
This is a crossover with the Marvel Ultimates universe, and BtVS, a few years after Chosen. It was obviously slightly inspired in M. McGregor’s The Wonderland Subject fic, here: http://www.tthfanfic.org/Story-16694/MMcGregor+The+Wonderland+Subject.htm
. However, this is also a round robin, which means people can contribute to it in any shape or form they want to. Some guidelines are posted at the end of this chapter.
The full name of S.W.O.R.D. is credited to Tenhawk. Feedback:
Always welcome.1 – The Annual Convention of Scotland Alien Pirates
For a Californian born and bred, the Scotland weather was one of the very few things Xander complained almost daily since they decided to setup the main HQ. The cold during winter was atrocious, and he only survived due to some very padded coats, extra-reinforced to resist the weather by Willow’s wiccan abilities. Of course, nowadays, he complained more for show than anything else, since it was expected
, like Andrew’s usual out-of-this-world (really
) references during every meeting they had, live or not. After ten years of it, it would be expected of them to either quit it, or, in this case, it became so ingrained that the Slayers usually frowned when he didn’t actually do it.
It even saved his life once. Shapeshifting demon swapped places with him, and when one of the Slayers asked jokingly how he felt about the weather, the demon did what he considered usual, and replied with “nice, very nice.” Demon was slayed five minutes after, but not after revealing where he had taken Xander. After that day, bad-mouthing the weather became Xander’s password.
However, even he had a bad time with today’s gorgeous blue sky, with the temp now at the mid sixties. On a whim, having nothing really great going on – things seemed to be going more like this every single day since the Ultimates showed up - he decided to go on one of his not-so-uncommon trips to town. Slayer Central’s closest town was Drumnadrochit, but Xander preferred the less tourist-trap village of Lewiston to the south, where he could actually sit to take a cup of coffee without a tourist asking him for a picture, thinking of him as some sort of local attraction. Having really no one of interest to go with him – Willow being in Devon once again and Buffy… - he simply grabbed his bike’s keys and his pack and in a few moments he was going down the road towards Lewiston.
What he didn’t know was that a bird very high in the sky had its sights on him since he left the castle.
Xander strolled casually down the streets, stopping once in a while to speak with an acquaintance or other. He even met a couple Slayers from the compound doing some shopping. After some small talk with the duo, he stopped in his usual coffee shop, and ordered a cappuccino and a bagel. It wasn’t the usual Scottish breakfast food, but the town had its usual share of tourists, due to its close proximity to Loch Ness, so it catered to the more usual western – read American – tastes.
He unfolded the newspaper he was carrying and started reading, focusing on the news from abroad more than local stuff. A few moments later, he sensed, more than saw, someone sitting in the chair across his small table. Without taking his eyes from the newspaper, he spoke.
“I didn’t know it was time for Scotland’s Annual Alien Pirates Convention. I’d have dressed accordingly.”
The man on the other side chuckled for a moment. “Good one, Harris. Never thought you’d notice me.”
Xander folded the newspaper, finally looking at the man sitting across. “Kinda hard not to notice you and the seven goons who were tailing me. Tell me, General, is this a friendly conversation or do I have to tell my Slayers to act?”
General Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave away another chuckle. “No worries, Harris, this is entirely friendly. You can tell the Slayers to keep their cool, my boys will do the same. Agreed?”
With a nod, Xander just lifted his left hand and did a very brief sign. Fury didn’t see anyone do anything different, but he was certain that a few girls who had a habit of killing demons as a job suddenly relaxed on their hidden positions.
“So, what does the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. wants with little old me?”
Fury took off a sort of gizmo from a pocket and left it over the table. “Now we can talk freely.”
“Huh, I don’t think the digital cam will do much to help with the secrecy.”
“The digital cam, as you put it, costs something a little bit around six million dollars, and it allows us to speak freely inside its cone of silence.”
“Don’t tell me your geek-heads named it like that,” Xander said, looking at the little device with no amount of surprise and amusement.
“What can I say, Hollywood usually has some nice ideas thrown in among the garbage.”
“Yeah, and your shoe makes long distance calls,” the younger man said.
“No, but it does have a nicely built-in laser scalpel,” Fury said, smugly. That brought a snort out of the Californian that turned into a full bout of laughter. After it ended, Xander looked at the amused face of the black man.
“So, general, what little old me can do for big old you?”
“Tell me one thing, Harris, are you happy?”
“Huh?” he blurted, looking at the general oddly.
“Happy. Are you?”
“Well, the coffee is good, newspaper not so much, I had a nice walk and now I’m speaking with one of the world’s most powerful men about happiness and Maxwell Smart. On a scale of one to ten, I’d say it rates a bit above 7.”
Fury sighed. “Now I think I know how your Mr. Giles must feel.”
“Yeah, too bad you don’t have some glasses to polish, then the experience would be complete. What the hell do you mean about happiness, Fury?” he asked, going serious all of a sudden.
“Are you happy with your life? With the way things are?”
An eyebrow rose, but Xander, while never having met with Fury before, knew that the man wasn’t prone to nonsense speak. Besides, the guy was THE head of the world’s top Intel farm, kinda hard not to figure that he probably knew what people he actually took an interest in had for breakfast before said people even knew it themselves. So, the question, in Xander’s point of view, wasn’t inane at all.
“Well, your boys surely made things less…interesting, which I think it’s actually great, since we don’t have to bear the burden on our shoulders so much. It’s still stressing sometimes, but… I guess it wouldn’t be too awkward if I said thanks now, would it?”
“I guess not, but it’s nice to know at least some people appreciate what we do,” Fury said, and Xander sighed.
“The girls are mostly happy, they now have some extra time to be normal girls and do normal stuff…”
“But…” Fury prodded.
“But… I guess I’m… I don’t know… I’m not. I mean, I should be, cause I can actually take some time to come to town and, unfortunate meetings aside, take some time to drink a cup of good coffee and read the newspaper in peace. ”
“I know how you feel. Do you know why? Because you’re very much like myself, Harris,” Fury said.
“Yeah, even have the eyepatch to prove it,” the Californian mumbled.
“Smartass. You know why you’re not happy? Because you can feel it, Xander, because you can see. You can feel trouble brewing in the horizon, you don’t know where it will come from, but you just know that it will, and you might not be in a position to do something about it. And someone will pay the price for it. I know how this is, because I feel the same most of the time. I fear that one day not even the Ultimates will be able to stop the next threat, and we all are going to pay.”
“That…might be it,” Xander replied, uncertain.
it, and you know it, man. Don’t lie to yourself, if you could you would be out there doing your damned best to keep your girls and the rest of the world safe. Am I wrong?”
“…No. But it still doesn’t explain why you’re here talking to me,” he pointed.
Fury reclined back on his chair. “Do you know what S.H.I.E.L.D. is?”
“Who doesn’t?” Xander replied rhetorically.
“Exactly. We tried to keep things secret, and we still manage to keep most of what we do under wraps, but if Cap farts in a public elevator, the Congress will probably call a committee to see if this wasn’t an operation we conducted.”
The image of Captain America farting and having to explain it later to the Congress was a bit much for Xander, and he cracked up in laughter once again. He managed to control himself a few moments later, and focused back on a not-so-amused-anymore US General.
“Sorry, go on, please.”
“Thank you. Back to what I was saying, a few months back the UN Security Council approached the DoD with a pitch to see if they could turn S.H.I.E.L.D. into an international agency. Well, it wasn’t very nice to see, or to be a part of. However, in the end, what screwed it up was the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. was way too public to be effective for the idea they had, so the brains decided to create a brand new anagram to fill the spot, the Strategic Worldwide Offensive Response Directorate, S.W.O.R.D.”
Xander guffawed again. “You gotta be shitting me. I mean, who thinks those corny names?”
“Beats me, probably someone with a lot of free time on their hands. Anyway, the creation of said Directorate was approved by the higher ups, and the mission is simple: keep the world spinning, by whatever means necessary.”
“Kind of broad mission parameters, General,” Xander said, eyeing the military man.
“Yeah. Tell me, if you could stop a war from happening by shooting one single man, would you do it? I mean, if you could go back in the past and kill Hitler, would you do it?”
Xander got pensive. “Willow once told me that messing with the timeline can be a bitch. I asked the same question you just did, and she said that she feared that something worse might take its place in history. So, maybe.”
“Let me be a little broader, then. Would you do
what needs to be done?”
Xander’s eyebrow rose. “Is this a sales pitch, General?”
“You could say that.”
“Not interested,” he answered, but even to him it sounded fake.
“Yeah, if you say that with a little bit more sincerity, I still think you’d be lying through your teeth. You’re bored as hell, right?”
Xander shook his head and sighed. “…yeah, and thanks to you and you boy-band. Not that I’m complaining, but after a life of waiting for the next apocalypse, this…calm is giving me ulcers.”
This time, Fury laughed. “So, what do you say? Wanna take a look at it? No pressure?”
Xander shrugged. “Sure, why not? But what I don’t get it is why they’re sending you to do the sales pitch, General. There must be tons of people able to do this, and I think they’re a bit …less than you. No offense.”
“None taken. Actually, this is the only one I’m going to do,” Fury pointed.
That surprised Xander. “Why?”
“There’s only one director chair in S.W.O.R.D., and you’re the only candidate I approved.”
“What the fuck?”
Fury smiled. Gotcha
“It’s very simple, Harris. Do you know how many people were checked for availability for the chair? I don’t have the exact numbers, but they were a lot
. Only problem is, they were all too trustworthy.”
The younger man shook his head. “Now I know you’re really
not making any sense.”
“I was chosen to sit on the chair myself, but in the end, someone complained I was too American
. The Russian candidate, my counterpart, you might say, was rejected because he was too Russian.
Getting my drift?”
“Yes…but I’m American too, in case it skipped your bio on me,” he smirked.
“Yes, but, let’s say I was a threat once I sat here to talk. Would I have left this chair alive?” Fury asked, leaning forward.
“No.” No hesitation.
“And if instead of me, I was the President of the United States, and he had just told you he’d kill every Slayer alive?”
Xander jumped. “You’re coming too close to option number one…” he growled.
“Calm down, it’s just a hypothesis. We’re not after them, and the POTUS is actually a fan, but that’s
the reason you were picked. No one trusts you, but no one trusts you to do what’s in their best interests, they trust you to do what needs to be done
, even if in the end it means killing the President.”
“And you trust me, even knowing I’d do it?” Xander asked.
“Hell, no. I trust you because I know that if you killed the American President, you’d have a two thousand percent, absolutely foolproof reason to do so, backed by enough evidence so no one would doubt you, not even the most paranoid living American patriot, me. You’re not a killer, but you can kill, if the needs demand it.”
“Don’t even start with that crap about not being able
, you’ve been handling an army of multinational super-powered teenager girls for the better part of ten years, and I can’t think of a more gruesome , I’d-shoot-my-own-brains-out leadership experience. You know how the intel world works, you have all those nifty memories
of a soldier on your head, and in my very personal opinion, you have what it takes, never mind what the eggheads say. So, will you come with me and look it over?”
Xander was thoughtful for a few moments. “You’re pretty sure I’ll say yes, right?”
“Harris, when the tour is over, you’ll beg
me to sit on the chair.”
A/N: The prologue is over, right now is up to the next author to pick this up and take it further. A few suggestions about what Xander will do after he accepts it (and this is the only thing certain in this fic from now on) might be the recruitment drive (same thing Fury did, but now with Xander being the man in charge), some missions, whatever. I’m not limiting this to the Ultimates universe, it’s up to the next guy who he’ll work with, Slayers, non-Slayers, superheroes, Immortals, etc.