Xander walked into the lecture hall and suddenly there was quiet, it wigged him out a bit. He quickly stashed his briefcase and notes in order to hide his discomfort, then he looked up and smiled at the class. It was an eclectic mix of old and young, some who were obviously skeptical and some who reminded him of that poster on the X-Files ‘I want to believe’.
“Hello class, welcome to ‘Mythology in the Modern Era’; I’m Professor Harris and I’ll be teaching this class. There are a couple of other faces you should get used to seeing, my graduate assistant Miss Dawn Summers, and my research associate, Miss Faith; they should be able to answer any questions you might have if I’m not around. Now I feel that I should warn you before hand, this is not going to be an easy class, you will have to work and what’s more you will have to have a truly open mind or you just won’t make it here. Now I hope you all had fun summers because as of right now the fun is over.” As Xander started his lecture Faith sat back and remembered the summer she had spent in the city of her birth.
Faith watched as Xander turned the key in the locked door, she was holding her favorite knife just in case; the whole thing felt strange to her, like they were opening a tomb. She’d heard that the old guy ‘Carter’ had told X that the office had been locked since the last department head had died; since then no one had been in or out. Faith just hoped that the guy hadn’t owned a cat. The lock finally gave way and the door opened, Faith was still on edge and the open door reminded her of all the crypts she’d seen in her life. Then Xander turned on the light and it was just a dusty office; an office with a couple of filing cabinets, an old chair and three envelopes on the desk. Xander stepped forward as Faith stayed on alert, her slayer senses were pinging mildly; the sound of his footsteps were muffled by the layer of dust in the room and sounded strange. Carefully he picked up the three envelopes, blew the dust off, looked at them and then just stood there with a stunned expression on his face.
“What is it,” she’d asked, worried that the gig was over before it had even really started.
In reply Xander just showed them the front of the envelopes. Each of their names was on one of the envelopes along with the correct date. ‘Very freaky,’ Faith had thought.
“So what should we do with them,” Dawn asked in a shaky voice and looking at her envelope like it was a snake.
For an answer, Faith just tore hers open, pulled the letter out and started reading.
Faith Michelle LeHane:
Welcome home little Raven ( just so you know, the raven is the Celtic totem for your birth month), you’re going to have quite the experience here but after the Hellmouth you should be able to handle it. You are a slayer after all and great events seem to be your specialty. As to what you’ll be doing here, primarily you are his guard both physically and emotionally. You will have to guard him from the beings that would seek to use him for their own ends, so be vigilant. And just so we are clear, you are not the second choice or runner up or anything, you are the only one that can do what needs to be done. So trust him and yourself and do the job;
Dr. Abner Whatley
Faith looked up and saw that the other two had followed her lead and were reading their notes. “Guard him,” huh, well it was obvious who she would be guarding and she was cool with that, or at least the idea of physically guarding him, but emotionally; now there was some territory that scared the crap out of her. She was great with being Xander’s friend, but the notion that she might be more than that was something that she rarely thought about. She didn’t want to loose her friendship with Xand, or piss off Pip, and that’s the only outcome she could see if she tried to be anything more than Xander’s friend. Well, she’d just focus on the physical guarding and being his friend and then see what happened from there.
Seeing Faith tear into her letter, Dawn did the same.
Miss Dawn Marie Summers
Hello there little Key, you know I’d never have imagined being able to address a universal force by name, but life always does throw you surprises, especially here. First let’s get the bad news out of the way; He isn’t the love of your life. Sorry to have to drop that on you but it’s the truth. You two are destined to only be friends, extraordinary friends, but just friends. The good news is that you already know your destined love, and you’ll be seeing him again soon. Now, as to what you’re doing here, you’re the anchor for the two of them, you and your love to come. Like what he did for your sister back in Sunnydale, that is what you are needed to be; their ties to humanity, a link and reminder of why they do what they do. All of you will be dealing with some forces that are currently beyond your comprehension but through it all you will remain essentially yourself, don’t loose that. Trust them, trust them both and keep them grounded;
Dr. Abner Whatley
Dawn was stunned, she and Xander would never be together as a couple; that news in itself was almost too much to take in. That he would end up with Faith as the letter implied was just icing on the cake as far as she was concerned. Dawn looked up and saw the same stunned look on Faith’s face that she knew was on her own; so it wasn’t just her that was getting her reality rocked. That was comforting in a kind of bad way. As far as what the letter said about what she needed to do, well she could remember talking to Xander a lot about what he did for Buffy and Willow when they were the ones getting super-powers so it was a job that she could handle; and hey, they were her friends so it was something she would handle.
Although he didn’t know it, Xander’s letter was much simpler; it only said, “Claim the Chair and all will be known,” and was accompanied by a couple of keys. One was identified as belonging to the file cabinets and the other was labeled ‘Storage’. He looked up and saw that both Dawn and Faith both had very thoughtful looks on their faces, so he left them to their thoughts and opened the file cabinets. Other than some incidental papers, the only useful information there was a map of the storage area and a couple of books that Giles would have drooled over. As he finished up he looked back again. Both girls still had that stunned bunny look on their faces, so Xander decided that this was enough for today and suggested lunch, to be followed by getting their apartments in order. Neither girl argued with this so Xander just kept his mouth shut, quitting while he was ahead.
“What we are going to do in this class is examine all of the creatures of folklore and search for the nuggets of truth at the root of each one and when we do this we will try to ascertain if these ‘tales’ have any relevance for today. So, questions?”
“Yes Miss Benson,” he pointed to a young brunette that had her hand up.
“Are we going to be forced to believe this stuff?”
“No you are not. I’m not going to look at my grade book and say, ‘Miss Benson doesn’t believe that Zombies exist,’ and knock your grade down. What will happen is that evidence will be presented, and you will be allowed to make up your own minds as to its veracity.” After that answer the questions came fast and furious, but Xander answered everything adequately as far as the students were concerned. “OK, one last question Mr. Turner.”
“How did you lose your eye,” the young man asked.
“Well the answer depends on the level of friendship I have with the asker and whether or not I think you’ll believe the truth, so for now I’ll stick with, ‘I was running with scissors’.” At that answer the bell rang, drowning out the student’s laughter. Once the hall cleared Xander looked at his two friends, “so how did that go?”
Faith and Dawn shared a look, then turned back to their friend, “is it too late for us to sign up,” Dawn asked with a smirk.
“So it went well?”
“Shit X, if they had crap like this and a teacher like you I’d have stuck with school; you did great.”
“Thanks Faith, you too Dawn; well I got a couple of hours and then it’s ‘Esoteric Literature’.”
“So you gonna bring out the Book.”
“Absolutely not, that thing scares the hell out of me, and I already know a lot of what’s in there, no that damned thing is for emergencies only.” With his vehement answer closing the question, not to mention leaving his two friends a little shocked; Xander thought back to finding the book.
“Hey X, what ya think of this cool chair,” Faith’s voice had rung through-out the warehouse they were in. Xander had actually been pretty speechless the whole time. They’d been exploring and cataloging things for almost a week and it still felt like they’d just scratched the surface. When he saw the object that Faith was indicating he did a classic double take. It wasn’t a chair; it was a freaking throne, carved out of some weird black stone that looked like coal with odd runes and creatures covering the entire piece. What was freaky though was when anyone tried to touch it, they couldn’t; it was like their hands just skittered over the surface, almost touching but never managing to make contact. But when they used a couple of wooden poles to try and pick it up, the poles touched the chair easily enough, but flesh simply could not. Even though it was unusable because you couldn’t sit in it, Xander thought that it was too cool to just be sitting out here so he decided to take it back and put in the corner of his office. He got one end of a pole on the same side of the chair as Dawn. The younger Summers had her own pole and Faith was on the other side of the chair with the ends of both poles in her hands. Xander figured that between slayer strength and the two regulars they should be able to lift the thing, but it refused to budge. Further testing showed that they couldn’t slide it, tip it or knock the thing over, it simply refused to move. Faith was in the process of getting very angry when the three heard a voice, “Dr. Harris, are you in here?”
“Back here Dr. Prescott,” Xander answered and soon a rather distinguished older man approached them. “Ladies, this is Dr. Prescott of the History department and a good colleague of mine, Dr. Prescott this is Ms. Summers my Graduate Assistant and Ms. Faith my Research Associate.”
“How do you do,” the man answered with a very polite bow, and received two nods in return. He turned to Xander, “found some interesting trinkets back here no doubt.”
“Well I don’t know if ‘trinkets’ is exactly the word I’d use, but I did run across some scrolls from the Alexandria Library that you’d probably be interested in,” Xander replied; a wolfish smile coming to his face at the other man’s expression.
“No I’m quite serious, they were clearly marked, I even believe that one of them was written by Euclid so you might be fighting that one out with the Math department, but I could be wrong, my Ancient Greek isn’t as sharp as it should be.”
“Then why are we standing here if something like that is in the building.”
“Well I’m just trying to figure out what’s up with my chair." Xander went to try and grab the back so Dr. Prescott would see the ‘no touchy’ effect, but much to his surprise his hand came in contact with the chair. When it did it felt as though he’d just grabbed onto a live power line, but without the whole certain death thing. It was weird, somehow he knew he wasn’t in danger, and then they hit him; memories. Lifetime’s worth of memories, stretching back and back and back. They came flooding into his mind until his brain just couldn’t handle the input and he blacked out.
OFFICE OF RANDOLPH CARTER (Same Time)
He was tackling some of the endless paperwork, preparing for the coming year and dealing with the influx of students that had come once it had been announced that there would be an Arcane Studies program again. His concentration was broken when he realized that the room was silent. It usually was quiet, but there had always been a light ticking sound coming from a clock-like device that sat on the mantle above a fireplace; it had been ticking since the death of Abner Whatley. No-one quite knew what would happen if it ticked off the entire fifty years, and Randolph was quite happy that he wouldn’t find out. But then the silence was broken by a crackling sound, like the scum of ice over a mud puddle being broken; then the device simply fell apart, seeming to age years in a matter of seconds. Not knowing what else to do, he called his best friend and Dean of Students.
“Walter, he claimed the chair.”
“Excellent news Carter.”
“Yes, but then if fell apart.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“The clock, it fell apart and crumbled; right in front of me.”
There was only silence on the line.
All over the world, seers and precognitives felt that something significant had just happened; that something fundamental had changed. And there were many migraines and many aspirin taken and many late nights spent trying to figure out what it all meant.
When he came too, the first thing he saw were two very worried faces looking down at him. “I should pass out more often, if this is what waking up is like.”
Needless to say the joke earned him two slaps, one to the shoulder and one to the head. “Don’t you ever scare me like that again Xander,” Dawn said with a touch of hysteria in her voice, “if something happened to you I’d have to go back and live with Buffy.” Faith didn’t say anything, but the concern was clear in here eyes, “so what happened?"
“Well,” Xander said, still flat on the warehouse floor, “basically I know what that guy felt like on that Highlander TV show.”
“Huh,” from both ladies.
Shaking his head at their lack of cultural education Xander continued. “I’ve had several lifetimes worth of memories just dumped into my head; specifically the memories of everyone that’s ever sat in this chair.” Xander suddenly realized that a third face was missing, “where’s Prescott?”
“When you passed out he started lookin’ around at stuff, just killin time till you woke up; but he must have seen somethin that spooked him good cause he just started babbling and ran out like his ass was on fire.”
“Thanks for that lovely mental image Faith.”
“So how were you able to touch it,” Dawn asked before Faith could reply.
“I claimed it,” Xander replied, “remember I said it was my chair. Once I claimed it, I could touch it, and once I touched it, instant memory dump.”
“Cool, so does that mean you know all about the shit in here and we don’t have to get dusty any more.”
“Yes Faith, I know all about everything in here, and there are a couple of things I need to do, starting with this.” He stood up and proceeded to stand and then touch certain carvings on the chair in what seemed like a random order. But then there was a click, and part of the back opened. Using his fingernails, Xander widened the crack and soon opened a hidden compartment. In it there was a book and a note. Ignoring the book for a second, Xander read the note. It was brief and cryptic, “only by flesh unwillingly given;" but thanks to the memories that he had received, Xander knew what it meant. Only those that had lost something physical, literally a part of themselves, could touch the book, considering his eye, that wouldn’t be a problem for him. When he explained it to Dawn and Faith, Dawn looked upset, but Faith brightened just a bit; “cool, that means I can read the thing.”
“What did you ever loose Faith, I thought slayer healing pretty much negated everything.”
Faith pulled up her shirt to show her scar, “it does, but it doesn’t re-grow organs. When your sis stuck me, well some things were damaged and the Docs just removed em’.”
“I’m so sorry Faith,” Dawn said, “I didn’t know”.
“Hey, not your fault Little D so don’t let it bug ya. I’m not five by five with it still, but I’m OK.”
They both turned to see Xander pulling out a large and rather battered looking book.
“What is it,” Dawn asked, seeing Xander’s stunned expression.
“The Necronomicon,” Xander replied in a hoarse whisper.
“It’s what,” Dawn said, sure that her ears were playing tricks.
“You heard me.”
“So what’s the big deal with this thing?”
“Faith, it’s supposed to be the most powerful and comprehensive book on magic and demonology in existence, but every copy was supposed to be destroyed.”
“Well it looks like they missed one, so how powerful are we talking here, end the world type stuff?”
“More like cause all the stars to super-nova at once and end the universe type stuff,” Xander answered quietly; he then looked at the two women, “this has to remain secret, no-one can know about this or we’ll be constantly fighting to keep thieves and assassins away, you guys understand?”
“Sure Xander,” and; “Whatever you say stud,” were the replies he got. Then his face turned from serious to goofy and he said, “well lets see if it lives up to it’s hype,” and opened the cover.
Buffy was at her desk finishing up some paperwork, it seemed like she did more of this crap than slaying any more, but that was what came with being the head watcher. She noticed a calendar out of the corner of her eye and it prompted a thought that brought a grin to her face; Xander would have been teaching a couple of days now. Buffy knew that Snyder and the other deceased members of the Sunnydale High faculty must be spinning in their graves at the thought of Alexander Harris as a teacher. She also figured that if she told the still living members that they would immediately drop dead from the shock. Then she saw the last item she had to deal with and the smile left her face with fearsome rapidity. It was a nasty situation, idly she wondered how Xander would have handled it but she dismissed that thought, Xander was Xander and she was Buffy and she would handle this her way; to thine own self be true and all that. On the surface it wasn’t that big a deal, just an altered duty roster, but the struggle it represented had been growing for some time and now she had to handle it, like it or not. And she most definitely did not. Unfortunately it was her call, there wasn’t anyone to sluff this off on, after all she was the head Watcher on the Hellmouth, only Giles was above her and as much as she might want to, she couldn’t stick him with this. It was funny, in a non-amusing way, that now she was seeing the slaying from the other side. ‘There was no way I caused Giles this much trouble,’ she thought to herself, but just as quickly realized that she and her friends had probably caused much more. ‘Why did I agree to this crazy suggestion again,’ she asked herself then she remembered that it was specifically to upset the “tea and crumpets” crowd which was still refusing to go away, much like a foot fungus. Another factor had been the opportunity to get away from “the Immortal” who had been getting progressively stranger over the last couple of years to the point that Buffy couldn’t remember what she’d seen in him in the first place.
She looked at the duty roster again, with this one exception; the Watching had been pretty smooth. Xander had left behind an excellent support staff and that had allowed Buffy a chance to ease into the job. There had still been a lot of calls to Giles for advice, but nothing of the frantic or panicked variety. But now there was this and she had to handle it like a watcher, not a slayer; and it was harder than she thought it would be. ‘Might as well get it over with,’ she thought and called out; “come in please.”
With that her problem walked right into her office, actually sauntered might be a better way of putting it. In a word the problem was Kennedy. The current head slayer either ignored or altered Buffy’s instructions constantly; even when Buffy took the time and effort to explain why she was doing what she was doing. Kennedy would nod, say she understood and would then proceed to do things the way she thought they should be done. Buffy’s gaze hardened, it was going to end tonight.
“I see you altered the patrol schedule again.”
“I wanted Patrice and Cassie to patrol together, I even explained to you why.”
“But they hate each other.”
“I know that, but sometimes you’ve got to work with people you can’t stand. If we get in a pinch we won’t be able to rely on these two because they’ve never worked together. This makes us all weaker, which is something else I explained to you.”
“So why did you change the damned thing?”
“Because I don’t agree with you; I saw what kind of leader you were back in Sunnydale so I’m pretty much thinking you’re wrong about most things.”
Buffy sat back in her seat, trying to mask the anger she felt at the brunette’s casual explanation. “So what would you suggest as a solution,” Buffy finally managed to choke out.
Kennedy didn’t seem to notice Buffy’s anger, or if she did notice, she didn’t care; “well since they don’t like each other, why force it. We’ve got plenty of places needing trained slayers, just pick whichever of the two is worse and send her somewhere.”
“And if she has problems at the station you send her to?”
“Who cares, it isn’t your problem anymore.”
“I see your point,” Buffy said looking at the girl and wondering if her wiring had always been that screwed up; then Buffy smiled, but it was a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “OK Ken, we’ll try it your way,” pulling a sheet of paper out of her desk she slid it across to the younger slayer; “this transfers you to the Middle East Station, there you will take over as head slayer, you’re expected in Riyadh in 48 hours.”
“HUH,” Kennedy said looking from the paper to Buffy and back.
“Well we weren’t getting along so why force it, they need a new head slayer for the Middle East and you’re the weaker slayer between the two of us, so off you go.”
“Oh, and good luck slaying in those all over robes you’ve got to wear over there, you know; traditional dress for a female.”
Kennedy just sat there, gaping like a fish out of water. Taking advantage of Kennedy’s stunned silence Buffy got up and stuck her head out of her office. Seeing Willow there she said; “I just re-assigned Kennedy to Saudi Arabia Will, if you choose to go with her I’ll understand.” Then she just stood back and waited for the two explosions.
I took Buffy almost an hour to convince both of them that A) she wasn’t joking and B) no amount of begging, or a resolve face was going to make her change her mind. It wasn’t that she wanted to do it, but she had let Kennedy be her own judge, if the girl had said that they should help the two slayers work out their problems then that was exactly what would have happened. It would hurt to loose Willow, but Buffy believed that it was only temporary; sooner or later Kennedy was bound to grow up and learn to play nice with the other boys and girls. Once peace had descended on her Office, Buffy picked up the phone and called Giles. The head watcher had of course been informed of tonight’s meeting; he just needed to know the outcome.
“Hello Buffy, from the sound of your voice I would imagine that there are two people headed to Riyadh.”
“Yeah,” Buffy sighed. “It just seems like there was something else I could have done you know, maybe used it like shock probation or something.”
“I know, but you went over your options quite thoroughly and I believe that the solution you came up with was more than fair, you allowed Kennedy to be her own impartial judge; actually it’s rather poetic when you think about it.”
“Yes really, now I’ll get the paperwork moving tomorrow and you should have a new Head Watcher by the end of the week.”
“Are you absolutely certain that you want to go back to just being a slayer?”
“Yeah, as Xander would say, I’ve gotta go with my best pitch and what I’m best at is slaying. I’m not sorry for trying this out, and it has given me a new perspective on the whole thing, but a slayer is what I am Giles, as much as I might want to be something else I’m a slayer; end of story."
“As you wish, but if you ever do change your mind do not hesitate to let me know, now will you be alright in terms of manpower until the new watcher arrives?”
“Yeah, I’ll make Cho-Ahn head slayer and I’ll stay on as head watcher until the newbie gets here, then I’ll go back to head with Cho-Ahn as my deputy, give her a bit more responsibility.”
“An excellent idea,” there was a pause; “not that I don’t enjoy our conversations but it is a trifle late over here and I do occasionally require sleep.”
“I hear ya Giles, sleep well and thanks for your support.”
“You’re welcome Buffy and sleep well yourself.”
With that he hung up the phone and Buffy did the same. She quickly called Cho-Ahn in to tell her about what was happening and the new position she’d be holding. Once the Chinese girl left Buffy just sat in her office, replaying the entire evening in her head. Giles might say she did the right thing, but she still wasn’t sure. Looking at the clock and the phone she made a decision. She picked up the receiver and started dialing. The other line rang a couple of times, then was picked up, “Hello."
“Dawn, it’s me, you got a moment cause I kinda need to talk.” There are times in your life when you just need family.
A/N First of all, I want to thank everyone for their reviews, I really appreciate them. Randolph Carter is a creation of H. P. Lovecraft and appears in several stories by him, I just thought he’d be a neat character to keep around. The Necronomicon is also a Lovecraft creation, and no Lovecraft flavored series would be complete without it.