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Echoes of the Fallen

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Fallen May Rise". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: YAHF- Xander lost a bet with with Willow, where he had to dress up as a Jewish character for Halloween. Well, he stuck to the bet, and now, he must overcome the memories of a man who wanted only to protect his people, no matter the cost.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > X-Men > Xander-Centered(Recent Donor)ChilordFR181492,971197516223,2242 Jul 094 Dec 09Yes
CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner CoA Winner

The Eye

Echoes of the Fallen:

Chapter 12: The Eye

Disclaimer: Buffy characters belong to Joss Whedon and studios/networks. Magneto belongs to Marvel (I refuse to acknowledge who Marvel belongs to).

-o-o-o-

“Glorificus.” The words were harsh, grating as they left the creature’s mouth while it stood with its brothers before fallen god and her semi army. “Interesting. We were unware you had so many followers.”

“Yeah, well, you know how it is.” Glory drawled as she lightly gestured with her glass, before taking a sip from her cocktail. “Hot girl in a hot dress walks into the bar, and they can’t help but follow her where ever she leads.”

“And I’m sure that the blood on you has nothing to do with it.” The creature responded evenly enough as his brothers spread out carefully.

“Well, a little, teensy bit of persuasion might’ve been necessary.” The woman waved her hand negligently as she turned and smiled at the demons around her. “After all, the boys need to learn to respect when a woman puts her foot down.”

“I… see.” The demon responded in a tone that made it clear he didn’t. “Then I suppose we should dispense with the formalities. We do have a bargain to upho- URGH!”

The creature’s speech was cut short as Glory suddenly appeared in front of it, her hand clamping about its throat as she lifted it into the air, reducing the sounds it made to liquid gurgling. Smiling, darkly, the Hell God hissed out. “Yes, let’s.”

With a snarl, the creature suddenly smashed its spiky fist down into the Hell God’s face, disorienting her enough for him to break free from her grasp. In an angry rasp, the demon snarled back at the woman. “Yes… Let’s.”

And with that, the madness of battle began.

-o-o-o-

“Giles…?” Dawn spoke up slowly, hesitantly as she looked over the book she was reading, then slowly slumped back, her eyes drawn, dazed as she half whimpered the man’s name.

“Mm? Have you found something, Dawn?” The British man arched a brow curiously even as he stepped over, looking down at the book in front of the girl.

“It’s… it’s all right there.” Dawn spoke in a soft, staring words as she shuddered, violently and paled. “My… My blood. And… there goes the universe.”

“Good Lord…” Giles stared at the pages, looking it over as he paled, visible. “This is… this is incredibly dark magic. “Incredibly so…” Frowning slightly he flipped the book around, studying the cover with a shudder. “I had forgotten I actually had this one. Wretched, wretched thing. I was planning on destroying it.”

“Giles… What am I?” Dawn looked up, pleadingly at the man. “I mean… This doesn’t happen to people, normal people. Their blood doesn’t get used to destroy the universe!” She shuddered, her whole body trembling as she fought against the crushing pressure that suddenly seemed to blossom in her chest. “I mean, I’m just a kid! Aren’t I?”

“Yes, you are.” Giles responded with a soft, soothing tone as he reached down and gently hugged the girl, running his fingers through her hair. “You know, you’re almost the same age your sister was when she became the Slayer.”

“I just… This is just crazy! I’m… I’m not even real!” The girl shuddered softly in the man’s arms. “I… I’m technically my big sister’s daughter! This is so…”

“Yes, it is.” Giles agreed as he gently stroked his fingers through the girl’s hair. “Though, we could say you do have two sisters now, both of which are Slayers.”

“Heh, yeah, that’s true, I guess.” Dawn admitted quietly before shuddering just a bit and wincing slightly as she curled up just a bit to the man’s chest. “They’re all so confidant that I’m real, so matter of fact about it. How can they just… accept this like that?! I can’t even do that!”

“Because, that’s who they are.” Giles responded gently as he lightly set the girl down and sat across from her. “Think about all the things they’ve been through. All the things they’ve faced.” He paused a moment, before chuckling quietly. “We have a boy with the memories of a man who was never real, and of living in a comic book world as if it were real. Is a girl that holds the energy of a Mystic Key inside of her so different?”

“I wasn’t even real not too long ago Giles. I didn’t EXIST! I wasn’t born, I was MADE!” Dawn countered as she growled softly. “Almost all my memories aren’t even real!”

“What’s real and what isn’t is a debate for philosophers and scientists.” Giles responded flatly before he let a soft chuckle escape his lips. “As I am neither, I am sadly limited to what I can see, what I can feel, what I can here, what I can experience.” He paused a moment, before shrugging just a bit. “And from what I can tell, you are very much real, Dawn.”

“I just... It's all so much to take in, you know?” Dawn sighed slightly and slumped forward, shaking her head just a bit. “I'm not sure what to believe anymore.”

“From what I've seen, your sister, and your Mother care deeply about you.” The man smiled down at her, before lightly patting her on the shoulder. “Now, let's see about finding some more about this Hell God, shall we?”

“Right.” Dawn responded with a weak smile and a nod as she pulled out another book and started to let her eyes roam over it it.

-o-o-o-

“Ugh, that was actually a bit uncomfortable.” Glory flicked off a bit of the ichor that had splattered across her dress, before sighing slightly. “Man, now I'm going to have to start all over again!”

Scattered around her lay the rapidly decaying corpses of demons from both sides of the conflict. In fact, the rapidly decaying corpses of ALL the demons from the conflict. Stone and concrete was strewn around the area in an almost haphazard fashion as sign posts were uprooted and trees were broken in half. Around the corpses, the grass was slowly dying as the demonic essences began to flow into it, leaving it a rather desolate piece of land.

“Man, this Wilkins guy is REALLY starting to get on my nerves!” Glory growled softly as she pulled the tattered, stained remnants of her dress up over her body then stalked off once more.

-o-o-o-

“Now, again that was just plain disappointing.” The focus of Glory's ire sighed slightly and shook his head. “All that work completely wasted. Really, it's a shame, and you just went completely to waste my dear.” The Mayor bit into one of his fresh cookies and sighed slightly as he addressed the mutilated corpse that had once been a lovely young woman.“Terribly sorry about that. If I'd known it would have come down to this, well, I just wouldn't have done it! Live and learn though!”

Nibbling thoughtfully at his cookie the Mayor idly paced around the room, before smiling as a sudden thought occurred to him. “What I need, is some fresh blood! A new face and new eyes!”

He paused a moment, before chuckling softly to himself. “And of course, someone new to help me out with things.” Lightly nibbling again at his cookie the Mayor stepped over a drying pool of blood. “What was that one boy Trick mentioned? Willis? Walker? Ah! Wells! Tucker Wells! Yes, that should do nicely!” He paused again, before frowning thoughtfully. “Now, how to get him here.”

-o-o-o-

“Mmm, you know... Prom's coming up.” Xander noted as he lightly walked next to Buffy as they made their way through one of Sunnydale's graveyards.

“Yes, I was vaguely aware of this fact.” Buffy responded easily enough as she lightly let her hands fiddle around in her pockets.

“Ah, I see, the awareness is of the good.” Xander agreed back as his own hands casually caught on the belt loops of his jeans and he looked around. “Huh, slow night tonight. I kinda expected them to interrupt me already.”

“They do tend to make a habit of that, don't they?” Buffy nodded her head firmly as she glanced at Xander out of the corner of her eye. “Stupid interupty vampires.”

“And we all know that interupty vampires are of the bad.” Xander nodded his head as well, looking off in the distance for a moment.

“So....” Buffy offered up, arching a brow back at her boyfriend, the look curiously inquisitive.

“So...?” Xander blinked slightly back at her, a confused expression passing across his features.

“Prom?” Buffy offered up, a slight scowl crossing her features.

“Oh, that little thing.” He shifted and offered her a bland smile. “What with the dressing in pretty dresses and corsages, right?”

“And the boys running around like penguins.” Buffy agreed with a sage nod of her head.

“Cannot forget the penguin suits.” Again he nodded his head, agreeing quietly as he pursed his lips together. “And of course the punch! No prom without punch!”

“Or the spiking there of.” Buffy agreed again as she scowled just a bit more. “Xan, how much longer are you going to beat around the bush?”

“I don't know, I'm kinda enjoy the bush beating...” He paused, before suddenly grimacing as he winced. “I mean that as in the metaphorical bush beating, not of the slang type!”

“Good.” Buffy agreed as she blushed slightly and fought back a giggle. “Now, out with it.”

“You, me, Prom night...” The boy began before shrugging. “Ice cream and movie marathon?”

“Try again.” The blonde countered with a twitch as she crossed her arms about her chest.
“Must we perpetuate the stereotypical teenaged couple my dear Elizabeth?” Xander shifted his voice smoothly as he reached out lightly beginning to massage against her shoulders.

“Yup.” The girl responded without even pausing a moment as she glared lightly over her shoulder. “You're taking me to Prom. You're going to dress up in a nice tux, and I'm going to put on a pretty dress. Then we're going to go to prom together, with our friends, and we are going to dance.”

“I take it you won't be taking 'no' for an answer?” Xander sighed slightly as he studied his girlfriend carefully.

“I'm using my no kisses until you give in face.”

“Ah, that is serious.”

“I mean it this time.”

“Mhm, I can tell.”

“I'm serious, Xan.”

“Indubitably so.”

“Alexander La-...”

“Finish that name and I shall not get you a corsage!” Xander cut her off quickly as he lightly glared at the girl who beamed back at him.

“That mean you're going to take me?”

“Was there ever any doubt?”

“Well, a trickle, what with the avoidiness.”

“Ah, I was but building up the anticipation mon coeur.” He shot back with a grin as he lightly nodded his head to her. “Can you blame me for liking that slight pink that you turn when I get you a little flustered?”

“Mon chevalier blanc.” Buffy countered with a smirk as she watched him flinch slightly and give her a mild glare in response. “Remember, you're not the only one who knows some french.”

“You little minx.” He grumbled slightly into a light whine as he shook his head. “You know I hate being called that.”

“Mmm, so?” Buffy grinned back at him as she looped her arms lightly around his neck and grinned up at him.

“You owe me a kiss or twenty for that.” He responded as he lightly wrapped his arms about about her, holding her at the small of her back as his lips slowly slipped down towards her.

“Mmm, so all I have to do to get you to kiss me is call you that hmmm?” She countered, murmuring against his lips.

“Well, I suppose you'll just have to find out.” He countered almost kissing her...

“Isn't this cute!” A voice rang out, causing them both to pull their lips away as they glanced up in agitation to see a trio of vampires stalking towards them. “I told you boys there'd be good pickings with that Hell Bitch scaring everyone off.”

“... Why do we always get the dumb ones, huh Buff?” Xander sighed slightly as he casually glanced down at her, almost ignoring the vampires moving towards them.

“Probably because the smart ones have figured out to stay away from us?” She offered back as she lazily gazed back at the suddenly confused trio. “And since its mainly been me patrolling with Faith lately, the newbies in town forget I can do a solo patrol just fine.”

“Well, you are the senior.” Xander agreed casually as he sighed just a bit and shook his head at the looks of incomprehension that remained on the vampires' faces. “I think we'll actually have to spell it out for them, Buff, they seem to be especially dumb.”

“Hey!” The leader growled angrily as he glared as he narrowed his eyes at Xander. “Just for that I'm gonna bleed you...”

“Slow.” Xander finished with a bemused little grin on his lips before turning his attention back to Buffy. “I swear, it's times like these I actually miss Angelus and Spike. At least they could threaten properly without sounding like they were still in kindergarten.”

“Let the record show that on this day, Xander said the impossible, that he missed Angelus.” Buffy reported solemnly as she nodded her head sagely.

“I protest with the hey!” Huffing slightly, Xander glared mildly at his girlfriend. “Enough with the would be funny.”

“Yuck fu shall be shelved for a later date then.” Buffy agreed with a nod as she glanced towards the utterly confused vampires. “Xan? Would you mind making the introductions?”

“I suppose.” He sighed melodramatically before gesturing towards the vampires. “Now, pay close attention, and I'll try to speak in a slow voice, using simple words so you can follow.”

As they growled angrily back at him, Xander merely smiled, sweetly at them in turn. “You three, are what's commonly known as a vampire, aka the slayee, or one who is slain.” Pausing, he then gestured to the petite blonde at his side. “This little bundle of delights is my beautiful, talented, absolutely yummy...”

“Yummy?” Buffy arched a brow slightly.

“Yup, I checked, you taste yummy.” Xander responded with a knowing nod.

“Good to know.” She agreed with a grin.

“Now, as I was saying, this petite little beauty is what's known as The, as in capital 'T', Slayer, with a capital 'S'. Now, tell me class, what does that mean?” Xander offered up with a simple, overly sweet smile.
“Um... we're dead?” One of the yet to speak vampires offered up helpfully.

“Well, technically you are a demonically animated corpse, so not wrong there.” Xander agreed with a smile. “But, I was more thinking... Dust.”

“Oh.” The three vampires blinked slightly for a moment, before their reaction was summed up by them simultaneously. “Fuck.”

“Not for you gentlemen!”

-o-o-o-

“Ah, Mr. Wells!” The Mayor smiled enthusiastically at the boy as he gestured to an empty chair in what seemed to be a 50's style kitchen carved into the cave. “So good of you to join me!”

“Um, yeah...” Tucker shifted slightly as he glanced, nervously towards the growling pair of what appeared to be detectives on either side of him. “I got the impression it would be a very... bad idea to turn down your, um... generous invitation.”

“Well, it is only polite to at least entertain the offer I'm going to make.” Richard Wilkins paused a moment before he smiled, brightly to the boy. “Oh, but I'm forgetting myself, would you care for some cookies? I baked them myself.”

“I, uh...” Tucker shifted nervously towards the cookies, before nodding his head, rapidly as he took one. “Thank you, Sir.”

“Excellent manners young man, someone trained you well.” The man nodded knowingly as he smiled back at the boy.

“My mother, Sir.” The boy responded back quickly as he lightly took a careful bite of the cookie, careful to not spill any crumbs.

“Ah yes, I heard about her passing.” The Mayor nodded sadly. “My condolences, being torn apart by wild dogs! I can't imagine what that would have been like!” The man paused a moment, before offering the boy a rather chilling smile. “But, such are the prices we pay, now would you agree, my boy?”

Tucker froze slightly, his eyes widening in a bit of a panic before he slowly settled back down and took another bite of the cookie to bide himself the time to think of a response. “The... prices we pay, Sir?”

“Please, really Tucker, I've been around the block more than a few times myself!” Wilkins chuckled softly as he waved his hand, dismissing the two men that had delivered the boy as he took one of the cookies himself. “Now, hellhounds, right?”

Tucker swallowed a piece of cookie that suddenly felt a lot thicker than it actually was, as his eyes widened like saucers as he stared in almost dumbfounded shock at the man. “But... what.... How did you...?”

“I like to know the happenings that are going on about my town, especially about up and coming talent!” Chuckling softly the man stood up before he casually and slowly walked over to a cupboard and withdrew a simple glass. “It always pays to make note of which ones might prove useful to recruit in the future, and which ones you need to nip in the bud to keep from ruining the batch.”

As Wilkings opened up his refrigerator, Tucker felt a momentary swell of courage welling up inside of him, before he quietly offered up a question. “And which kind do you think I am?”

“Ah, asking the right question on the first try!” Nodding in approval the mayor took out a carafe of milk and poured himself a glass, before smiling back at Tucker. “Milk? It does do a body good.”

“Whatever you think would be best, Sir.” The teen responded quickly as he stared back at the man, studying him intently.

“Playing it close to the chest are we hmm?” Wilkins nodded in approval as he set out another glass and poured some milk into it. “Now, I remember I wasn't much older than you were when I summoned up my first hell hound... quite the eager thing it was. Quite the trouble to keep it stocked up on brains...”

“Four.” Tucker answered softly, not quite waiting for the Mayor to ask his question as he looked up at the man.

“Four?” The man merely smiled back at the boy as he settled the glass of milk down in front of Tucker.

“You were going to ask how many of them I had.” Tucker shrugged slightly as he lightly put his hand around the glass of milk, feeling the cool beads of condensation spreading against the pressure of his hand. “So, I figured I'd just let you know.”

“Ah, quick on the uptake and straight to the point.” Wilkins dipped his cookie into his milk before taking a careful bite, smiling back at the boy. “So tell me, Tucker; how would you like to help me out with a little problem of mine?”

“What do you need, sir?”

-o-o-o-

“Ah, just what I need.” Glory paused a moment, grinning viciously as she stood outside the Sunnydale police department. “A pick me up!”

Grinning viciously the Hell God casually swayed forward as she let the viciousness of her grin fade into a sultry little smirk as she wandered up towards a lone police officer. Watching the way he studied her with an acute wariness, the woman only grinned even broader as she lightly stepped directly in front of the man. “Excuse me, officer, I was wondering if you could help me?”

“Depends on what you need, ma’am.” The man responded with an incredible wariness in his voice while he subtly shifted himself so a cross was pointed directly at her, relaxing slightly when she showed not even the slightest reaction. “What seems to be the problem?”

“I’m feeling run down, and I need a pick me up.” She responded with almost syrupy sweetness, as the look of sudden, fearful shock rippled across his face before she grabbed hold of his head before he could react. “Relax, though, you’re not worth my time to kill.” She paused a moment, canting her head thoughtfully before grinning back at him. “But this will probably hurt like a bitch.”

And with that she thrust her fingers into the man’s head, and sighed happily as she could feel the man’s sanity flowing into her. “Aaaah much better. It was starting to get a little muddy in this little head of mine. Much more and I’d have to let that damned shell of mine take over.”

She paused again then, as she studied the door to the police department as she allowed the man to drop into a boneless, gibbering heap at her feet. “Now, time to kill two birds with one stone.”

Carefully shifting and smoothing her dress, she licked her tongue across her lips, then casually stepped forward into the station. For a moment, she allowed her eyes to adjust to the artificial light streaming down into her eyes before she grinned, viciously as bit by bit the room fell quiet as the looks that fell on her ranged from curious, to lusting, to the ones of sudden, fearful recognition. Again, licking her lips in anticipation, her voice purred out. “Evenin’ boys.”

And with that, chaos exploded.

-o-o-o-

“Hmm, excuse me a moment my boy, I need to take this.” The mayor spoke up as his phone began to ring incessantly. “The burdens of being a public servant you know.”

“Of course, sir.” Tucker Wells responded quickly, focusing his attention on the cookies the man had supplied in between sips of the cool white milk he’d given him.

“Wilkins here.” The Mayor’s voice answered with a smile that could be heard through the line.

“She’s here!” The voice practically screamed through the speaker. “Oh god, she’s tearing through everyone!”

“You’re going to have to be a little bit more specific with that.” Wilkins responded with an easy sigh as he shook his head. “I imagine the she would be Glorificus, but where is the here, hmmm?”

There was a sudden thud on the other end of the line, causing the Mayor to sigh audibly as a familiar voice picked up on the other end. “Is that you, Dick?”

“Why, Glory, so pleasant to hear from you again!” The faux-cheer dripped off his words even as he smiled pleasantly and unperturbed. “Having a bit of fun at my expense again?”

“Well, you know, after your little mercenary minions went and killed off the little mob I’d raised and I’d killed them off, I was in need of a little pick me up.” She paused a moment, and he could here a strangled scream on the other end. “You know how it goes, don’t you, Dick?”

“Quite right, a bit of slaughter always does leave me a bit peckish myself.” Wilkins admitted with a nod of his head as he casually loosened his tie just a bit.

“Right, and you know, your boys in blue here are really rather stupid, did you know that Dick?” There was another pause, the phone settled down a moment as another scream could be heard in the background, before the phone was picked up once more. “They keep trying to run away.”

“Well, I do hire them for their self preservation instincts.” The Mayor responded pleasantly as he allowed a slight frown to mar his features for a moment. “Quite the necessary thing to survive in my town.”

“Right, cockroaches, just like you.” Glory responded with a soft, throaty chuckle as she purred back at him. “You know, the longer you drag this out, the more I’m going to make you hurt, right, Dick?”

“Well, what can I say, Glory?” Wilkins responded with an easy smile on his lips as he casually leaned back and took a sip from his milk. “I’m an optimist, and I’m in this to win.”

“Heh, Dick, Dick, Dick… I’m not one of those little demons you’re used to dealing with. I am a GOD, and I will win.” She paused a moment, before her voice rippled with a dark, hungering purr. “Do you know why? Because there’s NOTHING you can do to stop me.”

“Now that’s just a matter of opinion.” He countered easily enough as he smiled at the phone. “History has shown us, my dear God, that Gods can die, just like men.” For a moment, he let the words sink into her ear before he continued. “Oh, you’re harder to kill, that much is certain. Oh so much harder… But it still can be done.”

The throaty laugh that answered him would have unnerved most men, but still the Mayor bore it with that same soft smile he’d worn through most of the conversation. “Oh, you are a ballsy little cockroach, Dick! Why, if you weren’t one of these little insects I think I could almost respect you!”

“Well, Glory, just wait a bit and I’ll be happy to show you just what I’ve been working so hard for.” Wilkins shot back with a slight growing little smirk on his lips.

“Heh, we’ll just see if you manage to get that far, Dick.” Glory purred back across the phone as she smirked. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some more of your minions to get my pick me up from.”

“Quite understandable.” Wilkins responded glibly as he nodded his head. “Until next time my dear.”

“Later, Dick.” And with a click, the line went dead, leaving the Mayor once more in the silence of his own thoughts as Tucker studied him carefully from the table.

“My, what a woman that one.” The Mayor responded in absolute appreciation as he sighed slightly and shook his head. “Such a shame I’ve got to kill her.”

“The sacrifices we’re forced to make, Sir?” Tucker offered up carefully as he watched the man in front of him.

“The obstacles we must overcome.” Wilkins corrected with a smile. “The obstacles we must overcome.”

-o-o-o-

“So, anything of interest to report?” Wesley arched a brow as he looked around the assembled ‘Scoobie’ gang as they’d dubbed themselves, his eyes lingering for a moment on Cordelia, causing the cheerleader to glare angrily back at him and forcing him to quickly avert his eyes.

“Oh, this and that…” Buffy offered up casually as she leaned back in her chair. “Hell God looking to destroy the entire universe, the Mayor’s trying to ascended into a higher level demon, and we’re caught in the cross fire.”

“Ah, good, good…” Wesley responded with a nod, jotting down the information without quite processing it just yet. “And what has the vampire…. Hell God?! Ascension!?”

“Hmm, not a bad reaction.” Xander noted with a bemused little smile on his lips as he watched the way the man’s eyes practically bugged out of his head. “I wish we had a camcorder.”

“Would have been nice.” Buffy agreed with a smirk as she leaned back against him.

“Yeah, we could totally have sent a copy to the Council with a letter saying.. ‘You replaced the Ripper with THIS?’” Faith offered up, pausing a moment before she grinned viciously. “Oh wait, I already did that.”

“You did what?” Giles arched a brow, looking for a bit of clarification as he stared back at Faith.

“Oh, we just did a little bit of research and observation, took some pictures, recorded some video…” Cordelia responded with a negligent wave of her hand. “Like the way he shrieked like a girl at that rubber spider.”

“Or how you spent 20 minutes correcting all the mistakes he kept making, mixing up those various demons.” Faith responded back as he grinned at Cordelia.

“Or a high lighted list of the massive amounts of porn you’ve been buying with a Council credit cart, tsk tsk.” Cordelia responded as she lightly shook her finger at the man.

“But… but I never!” Wesley immediately protested, staring back and forth between the two brunettes.

“Don’t forget all that lingere he bought.” Faith added before pursing her lips. “And wasn’t there a few receipts for women’s clothing?”

“A few?” Cordelia clarified with a grin.

Giles paused a moment, smirking slightly as he glanced from the sputtering Wesley back towards Cordelia and merely arched a brow questioningly. In response, Cordelia merely waggled her brows and wiggled her fingers. Giving an amused smirk Giles turned his head and glanced back at Wesley. “Really Wesley, didn’t they teach you to keep a better track on your credit cards?”

“Of course I do!” The younger man immediately responded as his hand unconsciously dipped down towards his pocket. “They’re right here, in my… wallet?”

Frowning slightly, the man immediately began to pat down his pants, then up his jacket, his eyes widening in shock. “I could’ve sworn… I just had it!” Panic settling into his eyes the man almost tore through his clothing as he searched for the missing billfold. “It’s… it’s… gone!”

“Really, Wesley!” Giles chided softly and shook his head with a sigh. “Must you be so absent minded?”

“But… But I had it this morning when I dressed!” Wesley frowned slightly and shook his head. “I distinctly remember placing it in my pocket!”

“Which pocket?” Faith asked innocently as she glanced over towards Cordelia, who had some how found an utter fascination with her nails. Something not entirely out of character for her.

“Right buttock, thank you.” Wesley responded primly as he glared back at the shuddering teens.

“I so did not need to hear that.” Dawn shuddered, visibly as she paled then scooted more towards Faith and away from Wesley.

“Disturbing.” Oz affirmed as he lightly stroked his fingers against Willow’s side.

“Why is it that any replacement Watcher sent out here is so creepy?” Buffy asked casually as she glanced over towards Faith.

“Hey, why’re you lookin’ at me?” Faith growled slightly as she glared back at the blonde.

“Well, you’re the new factor.” Buffy pointed out and grinned back at her.

“Hmph, fine, blame the Boston girl.” Faith grumbled slightly as she sent a mild glare back at the blonde and huffed slightly.

“So, moving back towards the actual topic on hand?” Xander offered up, before grinning back at Wesley. “How often DO you lose your wallet?”

“It’s more a question on if he’s actually lost it, or he’s just saying he did to cover up his own deviancies.” Cordelia countered with a smirk as she examined her nails.

“I am NOT a deviant!” Wesley quickly proclaimed as he glared slightly towards teenagers assembled in front of him.

“I believe you.” Willow offered helpfully before she blushed as everyone’s eyes turned onto her. “What? He’s too… well.. Can you see him actually being willing to BUY porn, lingere or women’s clothing?”

“Hmm… She does have a point.” Xander admitted with a shrug of his shoulders. “So, moving on.”

“Right, time to be serious.” Buffy agreed with a firm nod of her head.

“Goofiness time is over.” Xander shot back as his own shoulders squared.

“Completely and utterly serious.”

“Totally.”

“Absolutely.”

“I get the point.” Wesley grumbled as he glared mildly back at the teenaged couple.

“Are you sure?” Xander offered up eying the man. “Because you can be a little.. ya know.”

“Obtuse?” At the looks she received, Buffy shrugged slightly. “SAT prep books.”

“You actually studied?” Cordelia asked in shocked wonder. “I thought when you said ‘study time with Xander’ you were using a euphemism for making out.”

“Well…” Buffy blushed brightly as Xander wore a silly grin on his face. “We do get SOME studying done.”

“We always INTEND to study, really, we do.” Xander added defensively as he raised his hands up. “It’s just… ya know… we kinda get side tracked.”

“Oooh, did you guys get your College acceptance letters yet?” Willow was bouncing happily as she grinned. “I’ve been getting them…” Glancing at Xander, she then winced and quickly quieted down.

Arching a brow curiously at Willow’s reaction, Xander then chuckled as realization hit and he couldn’t help but shake his head in amusement. “Mmm… I suppose I really should tell her now that we’re looking at the end of existence.”

“Probably.” Buffy agreed as she lightly leaned back against Xander, before she looked at Willow. “Wills, Xan…”

“Excuse me, but can we please stay on the topic of Hell Gods and Ascensions?” Welsey sputtered softly as he glared at the group.

Sighing softly, Xander turned his head and glared mildly at the man. “We’ve got the Hell God, Glorificus, in town hunting for the Key she wants to use to go home. Problem being, one, the process by which she’d do this would destroy our entire universe, and two the Key is a person that she has to bleed to perform her ritual.”

“On the other side of things, we’ve got a Mayor plotting an Ascension into something not nice.” Buffy continued with a grumble as she rested her head on Xander’s shoulder. “Something powerful and not nice from what we’ve gathered, though we’re not sure…”

“Ascension… Ascension… ah, yes, the books of Ascension!” Wesley responded brightly, before paling significantly. “Oh, this is not good.”

“How of the bad would it be?” Xander asked curiously as he glanced at the man.

“Higher demon bad… Giant, higher level demon snake if I recall correctly. Fortunately, there’s never been one that completed their ritual and lived to tell the tale.”

“Charming.” Giles noted with a sigh as he pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. “At least there are some small things going in our favor.”

“… Exactly WHAT could be going in our favor in all this?” Wesley stared aghast at the man.

“They appear to be trying to kill one another.” Xander offered helpfully as he grinned just a bit. “And they’ve pretty much scared off or killed most every demon in town. Patrols have been a breeze of late.”

“Not to mention that most of the police department and City Hall have been driven crazy.” Buffy added as she glanced over at Giles.

“Yes, the Beast as she’s known, drains the sanity of people.” Giles responded simply as his eyes shuddered in revulsion towards the book Dawn had found the information in. “For what purpose isn’t exactly known. Only speculation that she needs it to keep her own sanity in check.”

“Well, this is all rather… Frightening to be perfectly honest.” Wesley admitted as he shuddered just a bit. “Do we know anything about the ritual for the Hell God to use the Key?”

“That’s the curious thing.” Giles spoke up, frowning slightly as he shook his head. “The ritual doesn’t even seem to be possible until 2 years from now. It requires a rather specific astrological event that well…”

“Um.. Giles?” Willow spoke up, squeaking just a bit. “There was something in the news a few months back… some unexplained phenomena caused some astrological event that I can’t quite remember to be pushed forward two years… could that be it?”

“Bloody hell.” Giles pinched the bridge of his nose, “I’ll have to compare the notes and have you find out exactly what the change was, but it’s too much to be a coincidence.”

“So, we just have to make sure Glory doesn’t get this Key, until after the event has passed, right?” Dawn responded nervously as she shifted in her seat. “Then no need to worry about the universe going boom.”

“Just a pissed off Hell God to figure out how we can get rid of her.” Xander responded evenly as he sighed softly and shook his head. “Maybe they’ll just kill each other?”

Buffy snorted, loudly and glared at Xander, “When have we ever been that lucky?”

“Well, Spike did kill the Annointed from what we know.” Xander countered evenly with a slight sheepish grin. “But that did still leave us with Spike to deal with.”

“That was an interesting year.” Buffy responded mildly as she lightly glanced at Xander and then resumed laying her head on his shoulder.

“If by interesting you mean mind scarringly horrible and traumatic.” Xander shot back and chuckled.

“Don’t worry, I did.” Buffy assured him and sighed a bit. “Oh did I ever.”

“I, um, yes, well then…” Wesley stared at the group as he stuttered to think of something to say before finally grumbling wearily. “ I suppose I’ll… Talk to the Council and see what I can find out more about this Ascension and this Glorificus.”

“You do that.” Xander agreed as he lightly wrapped his arm about Buffy’s waist and yawned slightly until the Brit had left the building before he turned his attention back towards Cordelia and Faith. “Council paid shopping spree?”

“What can we say?” Cordelia shrugged slightly as she held up Wesley’s wallet and grinned. “If he’s not paying attention enough to keep an eye on it…”

“Besides, I got these bitchin’ boots out of it.” Faith agreed with a grin, while Buffy glared at both of them. “What’s wrong, B?”

“I can’t believe you two!” Buffy growled softly as she glared from one brunette to the other.

“Yeah! That was totally irresponsible!” Willow piped up as she scowled lightly at the pair. “And completely illegal!”

“Who cares about that?” Buffy shot back as she gave Willow an odd look. “They went shopping on the council’s tab and didn’t invite me!”

“Bu… but!” Willow squeaked and stared at Buffy in shock. “Stealing is wrong!”

“So’s locking up a drugged 18 year old girl with an insane vampire.” Xander countered before shrugging just a bit.

“Oh… yeah, that’s true.” Willow admitted as she settled down with a sigh. “So, what were you going to tell me?”

“Xander’s smarter than you.” Buffy offered bluntly.

“Way smarter.” Cordelia affirmed with a nod as she flipped through Wesley’s wallet.

“Scifi smart.” Faith clarified.

“…What…?” Willow blinked slightly and stared at Xander. “Huh?”

“Xander kept the Magneto smarts.” Buffy responded simply as she kept leaning herself against Xander’s shoulder and shrugged a bit. “Has had em since Halloween.”

“Seriously?” Oz arched a brow towards Xander.

“The job offers from top secret government agencies concerning a paper I published on wormholes tends to say so.” Xander offered with a shrug. “Though, I only publish things through a trust I set up with Giles.”

“..And… Everyone knew?” Willow responded, her eyes showing a flash of hurt as she glanced towards her oldest friend who shrugged a bit.

“I didn’t.” Dawn offered helpfully, before frowning a bit. “But then, I don’t know that much usually, so…”

“Oz didn’t either.” Xander offered as well as he nodded to the laconic werewolf. “No offense.”

“None taken.” Oz nodded his head as he put an arm comfortingly around Willow.

“But… Why?” Willow stared back at Xander, her lip trembling with a soft whimper as she stared at the teen.

“So you wouldn’t do what you did with the magic, trying to prove me wrong.” Xander responded simply as he shrugged a bit. “After that… Well, to be honest, after everything, I really didn’t care to.”

“…Oh.” Willow paled slightly before she looked back at the boy and stared at him for a long moment. “… The rocket launcher shipment wasn’t a lucky coincidence, was it?”

“Nope.” Xander agreed with a nod as he shrugged. “Glad we grabbed a couple, from the way things are going, it looks like we might need it.”

“Yes, quite.” Giles agreed as he glanced at Xander. “I don’t suppose…”

“Sorry, scifi weaponry is a definite no from me.” Xander responded with a shake of his head. “I’ve been doing stuff like environmental purifiers, water filters, recyclers… A computer advance or two. Infrastructural stuff.” He paused a moment before grinning. “Oh, and a really nifty solar cell that was completely, originally mine.”

“Well, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.” Giles sighed slightly and hung his head.

“Sorry, Giles, no lightsaber for you.” Xander responded with a snicker.

The Brit himself opened his mouth, then clicked it shut and offered a sheepish grin. “Was it that obvious?”

“Well, considering how many of you crazy Brits put JEDI as your religion, what do you think?” Xander countered with a laugh.

“Well, yes, quite.” Giles sighed wistfully and then grumbled a bit. “Damn.”

-o-o-o-

Author’s notes: I fudged the time table on the cenus, I know, it didn’t show up for 2 years officially. It was just a joke I couldn’t resist making.
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