Karma Doesn't Care if You are Concussed
Disclaimer: I own none of these characters. Joss is my hero. I make no moolah!
A/N: As far as a time line and possible things that could push this story into AU: This story is set after Spike got chipped. Xander never got together with Anya (I really don't like the idea of her in this story and I think it would just turn into Anya bashing if she were hanging around), so Xander has just been spending his time palling around with Spike and the rest of the Scooby gang instead of giving Anya orgasms. This is after Dawn came but I am going to be fudging the time line a bit because Willow has honed her uber magic capabilities for the purposes of this fiction. For now I think that is all that might irritate people if I don't mention it.
The wind was blowing clouds across the moon at an alarmingly fast pace, slowly sinking the Sunnydale Cemetery into an even more impenetrable, inky blackness. Xander looked on worriedly and had a bad feeling from the tips of his toes to the top of his brunette head. He hated it when Willow was doing magic like this because whenever there was a foul up (though admittedly she had gotten better at NOT screwing up) he was inevitably the one that paid for it. Willow's eyes were doing that creepy, glowy, black thing and the delicate witch was starting to levitate several inches above the ground. Her flame red hair was flying around her head moved by a force ten times greater than that chasing the clouds across the sky. Add all this to the fact that the spell she was deeply immersed in had to be performed on consecrated ground for some godless reason- Xander found himself yet again
in a graveyard in the dead of night. Xander huffed to himself. He was not having a great day, or for that matter even a mediocre day.
Willow was supposedly doing "High Magic". Xander had kind of tuned out here and there while Willow was explaining the finer points of the differences between the magic she was performing now and the more earthy, natural magic she usually practiced, but he understood that this was allegedly much more temperamental. That scared the shit out of Xander because he vividly remembered being chased around town by crazed women after Willow did her regular
magic. He couldn't even begin to fathom what might happen tonight if everything didn't go as it should.
There were subtle differences in the set up for the spell that Xander was able to recognize from many nights helping Willow set up spells. There was a very large protective circle around the whole spell area, but inside the large protective circle there was actually a series of several smaller circles set up to contain whatever demons or planar beings were summoned. It bothered Xander that there had to be more than one containment circle. In his experience the need for more protection from something was directly related to the creature in question's ability to rip his head off. Willow had explained it as a "fail safe", which only, in the end, panicked Xander more because there was now the idea floating around in his head that one of the containment circles could fail. He had the wiggins about the whole endeavor, but he manned up anyway because he knew Willow would just do it alone if he didn't.
The latest apocalypse trying to strike down the denizens of Sunnydale was a group of High Magicians calling themselves The Brotherhood of Ahriman. Giles had explained in agonizing, long winded detail that these jackasses were summoning "daevas", which were apparently a special kind of desert demon, and sending them terrorizing through town, so that "The Brotherhood" (Xander snickered every time Giles said this much to his eternal annoyance) could gather Chaos energy from the fear they inspired. It wasn't too hard for them to do that either because Xander had almost pissed himself when he saw one of the giant snake men chasing a pack of drunken frat guys down a sidewalk about two hours earlier. Xander sighed remembering. What was it with this place and giant things that always wanted to eat him?
Giles was pretty sure The Brotherhood of Ahriman was storing this Chaos energy in a statue of Ahriman- a 6 foot tall Snakeman statue. Then when they had enough energy stored, of course, they were going to perform the real magic that they wanted to execute and open the Hellmouth. Because hey, who doesn't want hell on Earth? Giles, in all his bookish authority, thought that The Brotherhood was under that impression that whatever came out of the Hellmouth would be grateful to them for releasing the barrier. They thought that Ahriman would come out with the rest of the demons stuck in hell dimensions and be bad ass enough to reward them and make them kings, or at least high ranking feudal lords, of the new hell. Why did no one ever realize that to most things that go bump in the night humans are just tasty?
Xander hummed worriedly to himself as, unbelievably, Willow levitated higher and the wind around her kicked up even more. She was chanting rapid fire in a ghostly, hollow voice, first in Latin and then another unintelligible language that sounded vaguely like something he had heard her use when she was petitioning Hecate to de-rat Amy. He started to sweat as he wished he had paid more attention during their prep session. With so many dooms days on his horizon it was just hard to give each one the attention it deserved. Gods, he was pretty sure he was going to bomb his history test on Thursday, too. He gritted his teeth as an odd herbal smell permeated the air and drifted into his senses. Random smells, was that part of the plan?
Plan A went as follows: While Buffy and Spike went off to find the Brotherhood of Ahriman and maim them mercilessly, Willow would summon whatever would be best to absorb the Chaos energy the snakey daevas had generated and that the brotherhood was trying to use as a half-assed battery for their whole, completely unoriginal, opening the Hellmouth scheme. In essence, Willow was hoping to cut the baddies off at the pass. The spell Willow had chosen was murky on the details of what would be summoned, but it seemed like the best one for what they needed done so she wanted to forge ahead anyway. Normally, Giles wouldn't let Willow perform such powerful spells without hovering nearby exuding a stern, fatherly presence and knowing the exact outcome of what she intended to do. That is why Willow hadn't asked Giles to help her prepare. One, there was no time...two...he would have outright vetoed the idea. Better to seek forgiveness later than outright defy their fearless leader's Watcher.
As the whirling wind blew the pungent, botanical smell more directly into Xander's face he crossed his fingers and contemplated the feasibility of crossing his toes in the hopes that whatever Willow pulled into the containment circle wouldn't ooze puss, smell bad, have tentacles, or be a giant bug. He'd had enough of enormous, scary things for one night. It didn't matter though because they were supposed to banish whatever was summoned as soon as it was done acting like a Chaos energy sponge. At least, Willow assumed she would be able to banish it.
Plan B: Run, quick like a bunny, from the "it" they summoned and hope Buffy would be able to kill "it" with Spike's help after it absorbed a shitload of Chaos energy. Xander tried to cross his big toe over the smaller toe next to it inside his worn down sneakers.
Willow was about a foot and a half off of the ground now and Xander saw the salt circles on the ground begin to glow before they burst into bright, blue flames. A loud boom announced a portal ringed in the same bright, blue flames. It opened above the innermost 6 foot radius, flaming circle. A limp body tumbled through the portal and impacted harshly with the unforgiving ground. Another loud percussion rent the air and the portal ceased to exist. At the same moment Willow collapsed from the energy drain caused by mentally keeping the portal in the correct spot above the containment circles. As Willow collapsed her focus wavered and the blue flames that had chased away all of the shadows in their immediate, grave strewn vicinity dwindled and died out. All of their candles had blown out and they were thrown into near pitch blackness. The street lamps on the sidewalk outside of the cemetery were alarmingly distant and Xander's eyes had no time to adjust to the darkness. Everything was silent.
"Willow!" Xander fumbled for a flashlight as he raced to her side. He couldn't manage to turn it on and he tossed it aside in his agitation. He grabbed his best friend and shook her. She didn't respond.
"Willow you have got
to wake up! This isn't good! This is very much of the bad!" She was breathing at least. Xander was in full out panic mode. He was glad he didn't have to remember his CPR training. Not only did the spell seem not to work, he didn't know what they had summoned, and all that noise and magic was bound to be a dinner bell to every thing of the creepy, crawly, bitey variety in Sunnydale. He heard a pained moan from the direction of the containment circle and froze. He slowly turned his head to look at who or whatever Willow had yanked through the portal.
"Where in Hades 'em I?" The figure on the ground said quietly. Xander looked closer. No puss or ooze, but the lanky figure on the ground looked more like a vampire than anything else in Xander's somewhat horrifyingly expansive experience. Buffy was sooo gonna be pissed off if they had summoned a vampire.
Xander didn't understand what the man had said, but it had a quality of "WHERE THE FUCK AM I?"
to it. Before he could engage his brain to mouth filter Xander blurted out, "Sunnydale, California."
Xander's eyes had by this point adjusted to the limited light and he was able to take in what appeared to be a very tall, lean man-boy?-no, man. He took a few precious seconds to appreciate the bad ass look of yards of black leather-safety pinned?-together over that long body. Unlike Spike, the man on the ground looked gentle, in spite of the leather, in an odd way. Maybe it was just the way he was holding his head as if it were concussed on second thought. He wasn't sure in the watery moonlight, but he was pretty sure he was meeting blue eyes that rivaled Spike's for color and clarity. Xander giggled as he realized he was mentally babbling.
Strife wanly smiled as he recognized the energy of a dedicated follower. Xander's heart skipped a beat as the potentially dangerous, albeit oddly attractive, man graced him with a small curve of his lips.
The aura around this boy dazzled Strife's godhood. The boy was rife with potential chaos and he basked in his warming glow. He had a joyful honesty spicing his energy. This boy was mischievous, but not malicious, which was a singularity in someone of his age. He reminded Strife of his favorite followers. He closed his eyes. He had never felt something so wonderful. The Fates, however, had never dictated Strife to have a quiet moment of happiness without a corresponding kick to the spiritual balls. At that moment a wave of Chaos energy hit strife hard. His body slammed back to the ground violently. Every muscle in his body seized and he arched tortuously toward the sky. Tears rolled down his face in large crystalline drops, catching the faint glow of the street lamps and reflecting it back to Xander's widening eyes. Strife was at a loss. He never received energy in such large quantities or this quickly. His body was struggling to absorb it.
Xander watched, mouth hanging open, and started crawling to the fallen god's side to help him any way he could. Willow's spell must be working. His brain whirred and he wondered if he should touch the man or not. He began whispering comforting, nonsensical gibberish to the pain wracked pale beauty writhing on the ground. There was something about the man drawing him in besides his inherent white hat desire to help everyone who needed it. He slid around after the body jerks subsided and picked the dark, messy haired head up off of the ground and placed it onto his lap. He ran his fingers between sweat soaked, brunette locks and used his shirt sleeve to wipe the tears from his bone white face.
Willow roused slightly and her eyes slitted open. She realized she needed to banish the Chaos energy and she made the fatal flaw that begins our strange tale. Willow's eyes glowed the black of the void of creation under her half open eye lids. Her melodic voice echoed with the power of a thousand sorceresses before her performing magic on windswept hills and plains. "I banish you, Chaos energy-inspired by evil mischief-back to the realm you originated from."
The oddly accented Greek floated to Strife's ears. As the last haunting note of the fiery haired woman's voice washed over him Strife cried out in agony, yet again, as his godhead was ripped from his body. He felt like every molecule of his being was being covered in lightening and acid. There was a blinding flash and his body glowed a bright white. The fear inspiring portal from earlier opened over Strife with another earth shaking noise and sent the white energy speeding back to Olympus. Another sound like irritated thunder and the portal was gone. Xander was momentarily blinded again. Strife passed out from pain and exhaustion. Willow passed out from the energy drain-Xander was left with two unconscious people in the middle of a graveyard, at a quarter past midnight, in Sunnydale.
"Figures." Muttered Xander as he looked around. "Plan B then. Why doesn't anything ever go right? Fuck!"
"Because you two were mucking around with Chaos magic, you twit." Xander jumped at Spike's angry voice as he emerged from behind a large tombstone. He bent down and scooped up the unconscious man from the ground freeing Xander to move. It was a reassuring reminder of his vampiric strength. Xander giggled at the sight of Spike carrying the much larger man.
"Physics-Spike defies you!", Xander started to laugh harder.
"Great, the whelp's bloody well in shock. Can you get Red?" Spike asked pissily. "We need to move NOW
Xander scrambled over to where Willow was sprawled limply on the ground and easily picked her up. Adrenaline was a useful thing.
"The car is this way." Spike jerked his head to the right and followed his own directions by walking off in the indicated route. Xander trailed Spike into the gloom of the cemetery. How was he going to explain this to Giles? He was suddenly nauseous.
"Oh, gods. Giles is going to kill us, isn't he?"
Spike's merry laughter rang through the darkness chasing back the closeness of the night.