This was actually a proto-fic for What If I Stumble?
last year during the fic-a-thon but I removed it because I didn't think I could get far enough by Christmas and I wanted to carry through with that commitment. I'm going through my old WIP folders and found this, though, so I decided to clean it up and post it.
"Remy and I have come to an understanding with the local police, who will also alert the state troopers that there may be some fast-moving vehicles along the nearby interstates in the next few days. The captain just said to use our uniforms and marked cars, and he'll try to keep interference to a minimum. And if you want this to become an official legal matter, he's willing to lend us the department's full support."
"Whoever or whatever took Esme, they left behind a scent that is utterly unlike anything I've ever had the displeasure of smelling. I followed it for roughly a quarter of a mile into the woods, where I found a few drops of Esme's blood. The trail disappeared shortly after, but it smelt… thicker. As if he or she had met a friend… but there was no path that would indicate the approach of another being."
A hiccup. "Light beer is like sex in a canoe: fucking close to water."
"Thank you, Logan, for that useful and utterly charming tidbit of information." Reaching out with her mind, Emma pushed a few places and watched in satisfaction as Logan abruptly tipped over and went face-first into the table, snoring softly. "Much better. Remy and Ororo, that's good news. Hank, not so much. I used Cerebra and even with Ivette as an augment, I couldn't find a trace of Esme. I even risked letting Ivette project through me to use Cerebra herself, and she came up blank as well."
Leaning back in his chair, which squeaked alarmingly at the abuse, Hank stroked his furry chin idly. "So Esme has been taken beyond my ability to track and beyond the reach of telepathy… which is theoretically impossible, given I've seen you use Cerebra to track down mutants in the furthest corners of the world. This is indeed a disturbing situation. Where do we go from here, Emma?"
Emma leaned over the side of her chair and retrieved her laptop from its bag. "So now that we've got a missing student, I'll be doing unilateral decision making?"
"You are the one who insisted on being given full control of the school, since you had all legal rights to it due to Charles's will, Emma." Hank gestured to the other three adults in the room. "We had no practical way to protest your dictatorial coup, short of resigning and leaving these students under the care of you and anyone you hired to replace us. You wanted to be our leader… so lead."
Smirking, Emma booted up her laptop. "Oh no, you misunderstood me. I wasn't protesting, I was merely ensuring we're on the same page. If there were going to be arguments over who would be leading us through this crisis, I was planning to withhold the information I have and make whoever stole my school from me fumble along blindly." Connecting wirelessly to the desktop in her office, Emma navigated through the hard drives she had salvaged from Charles's computers, looking for a particular directory. "First things first, Charles had contingency plans for almost any situation that might befall the school. He was aware of vampires… if he doesn't have a way to handle them locked away in here, I'll wear red tomorrow."
The system asked for a password and Emma rolled her eyes before typing in 'Perfection'. She still couldn't believe that Charles had used the codename he'd attempted to convince her to use as the password that decrypted all of his most private files. They were all sorted by situation into folders and Emma went into Outside Threats, then on to Non-Mutant. There was indeed a file named Vampires. "Eureka."
Emma's eyes flitted down the page and she frowned. The file was distressing brief, with a very simple set of instructions. Instructions that she was loathe to follow, given that it would mean bringing in outsiders to handle the situation. Still, she'd just lost one of her prize students to this creature. What if he kept eating her telepaths? She wouldn't mind if Bobby Drake, his whiny little girlfriend 'Rogue', or one of the others was eaten… but she genuinely liked the Cuckoos.
"It says here that Charles made an agreement with a group dedicated to handling vampires and other demons." Emma looked up from her laptop and scowled. "They would contact us if they ran into any mutants, especially odd-looking ones that might be mistaken for demons by other, less educated hunters, and we would contact them to alert them to any vampires preying on mutants due to the high danger potential of a vampire mutant." Checking the time, Emma found a perfect excuse to put things off for a bit, so she could make a few more sweeps of the area and try to come up with another option. "It's very late, though. It'd be impolite to call them at this hour. Everyone, try to get some sleep. We'll reconvene after classes tomorrow to discuss any changes. Ororo, I'll start thinking on a way to keep people out of your flowers. Dismissed."
The others filed out, Remy whispering something that made Ororo blush slightly and giggle before taking his hand, and Emma sighed before hanging her head. Hopefully she could find another way. Whoever these 'Council' people were, they were likely human and she just didn't want to deal with the chaos that would come with bringing sapiens into her school. That's why her plans for the Academy were still on hold.
Emma looked at the screen again. Then again, it said the Council would CONTACT them about mutants… never that the X-Men would take them away or even visit. Perhaps the group would have at least one member on hand who was a member of Homo sapiens superior
, and she could bring into the school without stirring up trouble?
It was two 'o clock here… one 'o clock in Cleveland… and these people did hunt vampires. They probably would be up at this hour. Sighing, Emma decided to just get it over with and picked up the phone.
"Okay, I just got off the phone with what was officially the weirdest call ever." Xander sat back and put his feet up on the desk. "Remember that Xavier guy in the wheelchair who came to visit us right after we set up shop here in Cleveland? The mutant mind reader? Evidently he's dead and his school now belongs to Emma Frost, and she needs us to come in and deal with a vampire problem."
Faith's eyebrows went up even as Dawn let out a little squeal and clapped her hands together. "Emma Frost? As in super rich, wears white even after Labor Day but it's okay because she's her, posed in Playboy and Maxim and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, worth more than Donald Trump? That Emma Frost?" Xander blinked slowly. Wow. Somebody was a little celebrity obsessed. Or taking after Willow in more than just a research girl sort of way. Which, despite the very interesting mental images, was probably not the way he should be picturing his friend's little sister. Correctly interpreting his look, Dawn abruptly blushed. "Not that I've been, you know, looking at Playboy or anything."
Snorting, Faith elbowed Dawn in the ribs. "Now I know where my copies keep disappearing to. I want those back on my bed before I go to bed this morning, squirt." Turning her attention back to Xander, she leaned forward to put her hands on the desk. "So, what's the sitch with Frosty and Mutant High? And when do we leave?"
"We don't. That's the problem. After the M-Day showdown in San Francisco, most of her students are still pretty twitchy about humans. The school took in some of Magneto's younger followers and their paranoia of a forced 'cure' spread a bit." Xander shook his head. "No, she wants a mutant or demon to come in and do things for her."
Faith shot him a disbelieving look as she flopped down in the chair on the opposite side of his desk, Dawn perching on the arm and leaning against the dark-haired slayer rather than taking the second chair. With the recent revelation of Dawn's… interesting… reading habits, that move sent Xander's mind wandering into dangerous territory. Faith and Dawn? He tried to avoid drooling like Homer as Faith started ranting. "Well that's fucking retarded. We don't have any mutants… and she does know we kill demons, right? Why the hell would we have one working for us?" Xander shrugged; while he could understand her desire to make the visit minimally disruptive, it didn't make it any easier for them to suddenly conjure up a mutant or friendly demon to send in. Huh. Conjure. Maybe one of the witches would be close enough? No, Emma had been quite vocal in her desire to have a 'different' looking helper, 'the stranger the better'. "Sucks to be her, I guess. She can either let more of her students develop a bad case of dead, or she can get over herself."
A new voice entered the conversation. "Or you can send me." Illyria stepped into his office and Xander shivered. God, whenever he tracked down Angel, he was going to stake the undead bastard for dumping this woman on them. Woman. Hah. Creature.
She was most definitely an evil, non-human being. After all, she'd shown up in his room her first day there, stripped, and requested that he help her explore human courtship and sexuality practices. When was the last time THAT had happened with a human? Post-demonic Anya and Renée the Jailbait Slayer aside, of course.
Hey. Demon who could quite easily slay vampires. And she looked human-ish but not entirely human, just like mutants did. Xander grinned. He could dump Illyria on Emma Frost the way she'd been dumped on him by Angel, and then the school's vampire problem would be taken care of AND he'd be down one immortal God-King. Two birds with one stone!
Waving her over, Xander gestured to the other seat in his office. "I can't believe I didn't think of that. Illyria, come on in. Sit down. You heard us talking, I assume?" Illyria nodded as she stiffly lowered herself into the empty chair beside Faith and Dawn, icy blue eyes fixed on Xander. "Well, this sounds like the perfect mission for you, doesn't it? Long term, no Slayers supervision, miles and miles of hunting territory all to yourself…"
Nodding slowly, Illyria continued to stare at Xander until he squirmed and eventually gave, looking away from her penetrating gaze. "I know your kind well enough by now to know there will be a… catch. What is the 'catch' for this offer, Xander?"
"You can alter your form, right? We've seen you turn into Fred sometimes when you need to go out among normal people, but you can change more than that? Look different?" Illyria pondered that for a moment, gave a slight shrug, and then nodded. Xander leaned forward, rubbing his hands together. "Could you make yourself look like a younger version of yourself? Keep your regular blue look, just younger?" Another nod. "In that case… how do you feel about going back to high school?"
Illyria's eyes narrowed at him. "Why?"