Disclaimer: I don’t own Marvel or Mutant Enemy.
Xander leaned Giles against the van. “Are you going to be ok? If you are, I need to go check on Buffy.”
“I'll be fine, they were careful in causing injuries to inflict pain instead of anything life threatening,” Giles said, waving Xander off tiredly.
Xander quickly ran back inside the mansion, he just knew he wasn't going to like what he found and he was right.
There was Angel the souled vampire, being held by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as he remembered everything that Angelus had done (if the expression on his face was anything to go by) and right behind them was a huge glowing portal about to swallow the Earth.
'Well, joy. At least I won't have to worry about detention on Monday. Or is Hell like permanent detention?'
Watching Buffy raise the sword and tell Angel to close his eyes was a surprise. Xander had actually believed that Buffy was willing to let the whole world burn to be with Angel.
He briefly wondered what was in the world that she considered important enough to sacrifice Angel for. It wasn't family or friends, she ignored the danger they were in. Hell, she barely protected her own life, much less anyone else’s in comparison.
'This is going to break her,' the thought flittered across his brain.
Almost against his will he found himself moving forward and yelling, “Don't! There's another way. Smear his blood on the sword and move back.”
“What?” Buffy asked, shocked to see him.
“I talked to Giles. I just need his blood on the blade and the two of you to back off. We don't have much time,” Xander lied.
Kendra and Jenny were dead, Willow had chosen Oz, and Buffy was a necrophiliac. Really, what was left for him? He was sure heroic sacrifices were supposed to be filled with love for their fellow man and hope for the future, but truthfully all he felt was a need for an end. He was tired and in pain that physical wounds couldn't touch.
Buffy and Angel staggered off like they'd entered a three legged race as Xander hefted the sword and called out, “I HAVE THE POWER!”
The council and others who read about his final words that day, always took them to be a statement about the power of the human spirit. Those who knew him best never revealed it was probably a He-Man quote.
Xander thrust the sword into the portal. Sure it said only blood was needed to close the portal. However it couldn't be that easy, something this big required a bigger sacrifice than just blood and Xander knew it.
* * *
In a place without time two higher beings decided Xander’s fate.
“He sacrificed himself to save others, but at the same time he used it as a form of suicide. The soul's destination and nature is uncertain; however the good he has done far outweighs the evil.”
“Take into account the fact that he was influenced by the Hellmouth.”
“The decision has been made, Alexander LaVelle Harris shall be allowed a limited do-over.”
“Use the blessed sword and demonic blood to bind him to that plane. Belasco's Limbo is going co-op.”
“Take a fairly neutral, but hellish seeming design for the place from his mind.”
* * *
S'ym stared at an unknown area of Limbo thoughtfully. The nature of Limbo depended a lot on its owner, and the section of Limbo he was put in charge of remained unchanged, so what did this new section mean?
Sunny tropical weather with a jungle theme, on some sort of tropical island. He nodded – the boss definitely didn't have anything to do with this.
A young man with dark hair and a shiny silver sword burst from the bush and screamed in S'ym's face.
Now, S'ym was used to people screaming; being a heavily muscled eight foot tall purple demon usually gets you screams when you're doing nothing but enjoying a stogie, but this guy's screams seemed to be warning him of something.
“Aahh!” he screamed in S'ym's face.
“Aahh?” S'ym asked cautiously.
“Aahh,” the guy agreed, calmly pointing his sword back the way he came.
A huge reptilian head burst through the foliage and roared loud enough to make the ground tremble.
“Aahh!” S'ym and the new guy screamed in agreement, before running like … well like a full grown tyrannosaurus was after them.
They'd gained a little time on the T-Rex by dodging through a small copse of trees that it had gotten tangled up in for a moment, but the shaking ground let them know that it wasn't nearly enough.
It quickly became apparent to S'ym that there was no way they were going to outrun the T-Rex for long. They were going to have to make a stand, and as they burst out onto a beach he realized that time was now.
“It’s do or die time kid,” S'ym called out. “The water probably has something worse in it and we can't outrun it for long.”
“Dammit!” the boy yelled. “I was hoping he'd get tired or distracted, but I keep forgetting how attractive I am to demons. Hey everyone, look its Xander! Every demon's nummy treat, just chock full of all the vitamins and minerals a demon needs to bring about the apocalypse.”
S'ym laughed. “Well at least my death won’t be boring. I don't suppose you know how to use that thing?” he said, pointing at the sword Xander held.
“Sure, but I can't reach high enough to knee cap it, much less hit anything vital.”
“Then let me have first crack at it with the sword,” S'ym suggested.
Xander shrugged and handed him the sword. Normally he wouldn't trust a demon he'd just met or any demon really, but being chased by Godzilla's little brother had a way of bringing people together.
S'ym shifted his cigar to the left side of his mouth and held the sword in his right hand by the tip, as if it were just a large dagger and waited.
As the massive reptile roared onto the scene, S'ym's arm snapped forward, launching the sword like an amazingly bright dart, right into the T-Rex's chest. The massive dinosaur keeled over with a thud that shook Xander from his feet and only S'ym's tail allowed him to stay upright.
“Wow.” Xander stared at S'ym majorly impressed until he noticed S'ym looked even more stunned than he was.
“Fuck me! I can't believe that worked!” S'ym mumbled.
“You didn't think it would work?” Xander asked weakly.
“Nah, I like playing darts and I figured we were probably dead anyway, so why not try and put its eye out.”
“You nailed it in the heart,” Xander pointed out.
“Yeah, I suck at darts,” S'ym said happily, as he realized they were going to live.
“When we tell this story, let’s claim it was the plan all along,” Xander suggested.
“Yeah, sounds a lot more impressive that way,” S'ym agreed, relighting his stogie with a Zippo he had stashed in his blue vest.
“Xander Harris,” Xander offered, while holding his hand out.
“S'ym,” S'ym replied with a grin.
“So, what do we do now?” Xander asked.
S'ym looked around. “It’s your corner of the cosmos, but I'm thinkin' barbeque.”
“Yeah, you're the only new guy and that was your soul sword. So the new area has got to be yours.”
“Huh, sorry I have no idea what you're talking about.”
“OK,” S'ym nodded. “The sword you were carrying is called a soul sword, it is an extension of your very soul and the source or reflection of your power. I was never into all the metaphysics, I'm an enforcer - I like to hit things. Anyway, simply will the sword to return to you, and we'll know if it’s yours or not.”
Xander held out a hand and with a flash of light he was suddenly holding a silver sword covered in dinosaur blood. “Ick,” he muttered and grabbed a hand full of sand to clean it with.
“Yep. OK, now the dimension you're in is called Limbo, but there are a bunch that are called that. Normally they’re formed by some evil wizard using massive magics. The evil wizard controls his Limbo dimension by force of will and usually grabs a bunch of people to mutate into servants or for fun. Evil wizards tend to be dicks like that. Anyway, Belasco is the evil wizard who ruled this Limbo before he was defeated by a blonde girl who now rules the section I run for her.”
S'ym looked at Xander and waited until he nodded, showing he understood before continuing, “Now as regent I pretty much have a connection to Limbo allowing me to find trespassers in Limbo or major problems, but I don't have that kind of connection here, ergo this is your section which was grafted onto the boss's section of Limbo.”
“So, I dreamed all this up?” Xander asked.
“Pretty much. This is all from your head.”
S'ym chuckled. “Let me prove it to ya. Close your eyes and picture a crate washing up on the shore behind you filled with barbeque sauce...” S'ym continued building up the idea of a ship at sea losing a crate overboard and it washing up here as completely reasonable, while Xander absently rubbed his sword clean of blood with handfuls of dry sand.
There was a thud and Xander started, finding that S'ym had dropped a large crate behind still festooned with seaweed.
“Come on, let’s gather some driftwood and while the lizard's cooking I'll try and convince you that large crates of alcohol are also tossed overboard regularly around here.”
* * *
Illyana Rasputin stopped in the middle of dinner and looked around as if she were searching for something.
“Is something wrong?” Kitty Pride asked, being the most in tune with her best friend and roommate's moods.
Everyone's attention was drawn to her as Illyana began to look panic-y.
“I don't know, it’s like something's disappearing...” The blonde mutant's eyes suddenly shot open. “Demons! All my demons in Limbo are suddenly disappearing!”
“Your demons?” one of the staff members asked curiously, but so low no one could catch who said it or even if it was more than just one person saying it.
“Hello? Ruler of the hell dimension called Limbo here. Limbo has demons, I'm the ruler. Don't any of you read the summer essays we write?”
“Not really,” Wolverine admitted. “I just look at how neatly they're written and take points off for every heart of smiley face used to dot the eyes.”
“That's why I only got a C+ on my history report even though I went back in time and took pictures of Little Bighorn during the battle?!” Illyana shrieked.
Wolverine nodded. “You know I don't like all that cutesy crud. I'm not there to teach you history, you can get that from any textbook and half of its all lies anyway. I'm there to teach you how to get along in life. Drake gets straight A's in my class because he figured out how to identify and utilize every one of my perceived weaknesses.”
Everyone turned to Bobby Drake, aka the Iceman.
“Beer, porn and blackmail,” Iceman said seriously.
“But you actually know your stuff!” Bobby Decosta complained. “I've seen your test papers, you've earned those A's.”
“Well, sure,” Bobby Drake shrugged, “only half of it is attacking the teacher's weaknesses, the rest is knowing the material. If you cheat yourself out of learning the material, you only have yourself to blame when you need to know it and come up blank later.”
“Actually I just wanted you to teach them history,” Professor Xavier said.
“Oh,” Wolverine said quietly. “I thought you implanted that knowledge in their heads, so they wouldn't flunk when they spend 80 percent of their time running around all of existence getting into fights.”
“I do that too,” Xavier admitted, “but I need actual classes taught occasionally, so I can show proof that we do teach, just in case anyone raises a fuss in between battles to save the world.”
“Does this mean I have to re-grade everything?” Wolverine asked, wondering if he had enough beer to last through the amount of time that would take.
“No, the way you've been teaching is fine. As long as the tapes from the filmed classes look good for court I'm happy.”
“Back to the demons,” Kitty suggested.
“I can feel them vanishing, which means either a demonic invasion using my personal hell dimension as a staging point or my demons found a portal to somewhere they'd like to invade, and since I'm not there to stop them they decided to go for it,” Illyana Rasputin aka Magik explained.
“This sounds like a job for...” Scott Summers aka Cyclops began, only to be interrupted by Professor Xavier.
“Steven Strange, I have him on speed dial,” the bald mutant explained as he held his phone up to his ear.
“Yes, Steven its Xavier, uh huh, Limbo. Yes, Magik's realm. Really? Thanks, I appreciate it.”
Everyone looked at the Professor as he hung up the phone.
“Stephen says he'll get right on it,” Professor Xavier said.
Magik smiled. “I can feel him... And now he's gone, and my demons are still vanishing.”
* * *
“This looks like a job for...” Scott began again, only to be interrupted by Wolverine.
“The Avengers!” Wolverine said, pulling out his cell phone.
“Hey Jarvis, dimensional incursion, yeah really? Well great, have iron man beam me over, and goldilocks open a portal.”
Everyone looked at Wolverine.
“We got it,” he said just before vanishing in a shimmer of light.
Magik relaxed. “Wow, I can feel the power of that group like a punch to the gut – Stephen was much better at hiding it.” She banged her head on the table. “And now they're gone and I only have a handful of demons left.”
“Fine, fine,” Professor Xavier caved. “Everyone suit up. This looks like a job for the X-Men!”
“And the New Mutants!” Bobby Decosta offered proudly.
Bobby Drake looked over at Scott and shook his head pityingly. “I can't believe you missed your cue.”
Jean Grey telekinetically restrained Scott from blasting him as they all quickly got suited up.
* * *
The combined X-Men/New Mutant's team appeared from a disc of light, using Magik's aptly named Light Discs to arrive in her domain.
Everyone stared around at the tunnels and darkness lined with flickering torches.
“Are you sure this isn't hell?” Jean Grey asked, smelling the sulfur in the air.
Magik sighed. “This is how the last guy decorated it. I haven’t made any changes because I'm not sure if it'll have a negative effect on me.”
Cyclops bent down and picked up a sheet of paper. “Free Barbecue?”
“They couldn't all have been stupid enough to fall for that, could they?” Kitty Pride asked.
“They could.” Magik sighed as she turned around to see most of her fellow mutants changing into swimwear.
“What?” Professor X asked, already in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.
“Don't you think this has trap written all over it?” Kitty Pride asked.
“Nah, read the bottom,” he ordered.
“PS- Not a trap,” Kitty and Magik read aloud and groaned.
“I might accept someone getting the drop on Steven, he's not perfect, but following that by taking the Avengers?” He shook his head. “No, the more likely explanation is that there is a party, and since the Avengers and Steven are already there I want to get there quickly before Steven and the Hulk bogart all the ribs.”
Following the map laid out on the flier, and a trail of broken trees and large footprints, the group of mutant heroes soon heard the sound of a boombox and the smell of cooking meat. Professor X smirked while Magik and Kitty silently admitted he might be right, though Magik did hold some reservations because she couldn't quite feel the connection to Limbo she was used to here and she certainly couldn't remember creating it.
As they topped the dunes and looked down at the beach, jaws dropped.
Not only was Magik's full complement of demons down there, there were also complete super hero teams other than the Avengers. Kitty saw the Fantastic Four playing in the water, save the Human Torch who was with the Hulk, slow roasting a gigantic rack of ribs. Magik was almost positive she saw some villains mixed in with the group, but she was sure they were of the back and forth variety. For instance, the Black Cat seemed to have turned over a new leaf and was that the recently paroled Sandman rubbing lotion on her back?
Professor X glided down to where Steven Strange had the Eye of Agamatto shining in the face of some dark haired boy while he helped direct his magically induced meditation.
“Garlic seasoning, barbecue sauce by the barrel and beer,” Steven chanted softly with the boy.
“Got it!” came the call from Spider Man, who was angling in some floating crates from the water.
“And Awaken!” Stephen said awakening the boy from his trance.
“We got it?” the dark haired boy asked.
“We got it,” Stephen confirmed as Spider Man and Thor broke open the crates.
“One barrel of garlic salt and five of barbecue sauce,” Thor announced, carrying the crate over to the Hulk and the Human Torch.
“Beer, beer, and more beer!” Spidey announced to massive cheers.
“Hi, I'm Illyana Rasputin,” she introduced herself to the dark haired teen with a familiar looking sword.
“Hi, I'm Xander Harris your next door neighbor,” he offered with a grin.
Magik blinked. “How is that even possible?!”
He shrugged. “No clue. One moment I was sacrificing my life to keep the earth from being sucked into hell and the next moment I'm on Gilligan's Jurassic Island, being chased by a T-Rex. S'ym saved my life and killed the T-Rex and we decided being alive called for a party. Then everyone started showing up. It was a little tense when the Fantastic 4 saw all the demons, but once S'ym challenged the Thing to a game of volleyball everyone loosened right up.”
Magik turned to Dr Strange who had a rib in front of him the size of his leg that he was pouring barbeque sauce on. “Any ideas doc?”
Steven shrugged. “Cosmic screw up or karma. His dimensional traces were wiped while in transit and this just happens to be the Limbo his soul created. The linking is probably accidental, but is permanent. I'd suggest learning to be good neighbors and inviting me to the next party.” AN: Everyone thank Godogma for typing this up for me so I couldn’t procrastinate anymore!