The Honeymoon's over
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy, DC comics, or Fable.
“You disgust me.” Xander stared at his wife of six months, flinching backwards as she reached for him. “Stay away from me.”
“What?” asked Jenny, a hurt look appearing on her face, “How could you say that to me?” It quickly shifted to a smirk as she did a little twirl. “You don’t think florescent yellow demon ichor is my color?” She laughed and flicked her hand at him, sending a few drops of the thick, glowing goop to land on his chest.
Xander reached down and disdainfully brushed it off. “Any color is your color, but did you really have to test a new spell on the demon equivalent of a giant slug?”
She shrugged, sending more goop sliding to the floor. “Well, I was a little impatient. I have been working on this spell for quite a while, almost since our wedding.”
“Still, couldn’t you have waited to find a nice, dusty vampire?” Xander reached into his Guild Pack and pulled out a towel, walking forwards to tenderly wipe the goo off Jenny’s face before giving her a deep kiss. Pulling back he smiled and hugged her, ignoring the ichors that were staining his clothing. “Come on, let’s head back to the hotel and clean up. We pay them enough they shouldn’t ask questions.” Hand in hand the wedded couple left the alley way.
After arriving in Florida, Jenny and Xander had taken a flight to Europe to visit Jenny’s family. The wedding was a small affair, the only guests being from Jenny’s side as Xander had no family worth the name. It was the night of the wedding the proved most interesting…
“A wedding ring and a necklace?” asked Jenny, holding the silver necklace and pendant. “If I didn’t know better I’d think you were compensating for something.”
Xander laughed and took the necklace back. Jenny turned, and he gently brushed her hair away from her neck and kissed it before draping the necklace around her and clasping it shut. She turned back around and gave him a kiss. When it finally ended, she managed to gasp out a question. “So, seriously, what’s it for? I know you well enough to know you have an alternate reason besides wanting to give me jewelry.”
“Isn’t that reason enough?” he asked, a fake hurt look on his face. She laughed, a noise like bells ringing and he waited until she stopped before continuing, he enjoyed the noise too much to interrupt it. “It’s taken me awhile, but I finally managed to make a copy of my Guild Seal. Thanks to the law about a piece of the whole affecting the whole, the one that voodoo priests use, I honestly forgot the name of it, but cause of that I found a way to transfer all the enchantments.”
Jenny blinked. “But what’s it for, you have the Seal after all?”
Xander smiled sadly before answering. “It’s always best to be prepared for the worst.”
Growling, Jenny pulled him back for another kiss. “This is our first night as a married couple, no more grim thoughts.” Soon after that, neither of them was thinking much at all.
The couple never really had a honeymoon, but that was honestly because their life was one big vacation. While their bounty from Terra was nice enough to cover the wedding and the trip there, the majority of their money came from the healing potions. The extremely wealthy of the world were quite interested in a miracle cure for diseases and injuries. Every batch of potion the couple made was placed on auction, and a single dose could go for more than a hundred thousand dollars. Their agent had received several offers from various interested parties to keep them on retainer, but even with the extremely generous amounts offered, they preferred to keep traveling.
They traveled throughout Europe, visiting different sites that peaked their interest. Jenny would often go visit acquaintances she had made in her youth when traveling with her tribe, while Xander would find a dojo or arms master to learn from for a brief while. He had gone with her once to visit, but after three hours of girl chat he never made the mistake of going again.
In every place they visited, they continued to hunt demons, being powerful enough that they used it as a time to test new spells out. The average demon just wasn’t considered a danger to them, much like a single vampire didn’t bother the Slayer. It was on one of those hunts, taking place in the catacombs underneath Paris, that Jenny tested her new spell, resulting in the rather gross explosion of the slug demon. It wasn’t until the next afternoon when they were eating lunch that Xander finally got around to asking what Jenny was trying to do.
“So, what exactly was the point in blowing up the slug?”
Jenny looked up from her pasta. “I was trying to modify the Steal Life spell.”
He looked at her with slight surprise. “You do know that is an evil spell, right?”
“Yeah, but I figured it was better than your idea to kick puppies to get rid of them.” She gestured over her shoulder and let her control lapse for a second, a halo and wings appearing on her before she re-exerted control.
“You have a point,” Xander admitted. “I doubt the pet store would just let us go in and kick some around, and it wouldn’t feel right adopting one just for that reason.”
“Well, I have a reason beyond getting rid of the halo and the wings. I wanted to get a feel for the spell for when I modify it.” She reached over and stole a morsel off his plate, popping it into her mouth and ignoring his glare. “I want to try and convert the spell so the end result is stealing mana. Can you imagine, use the spell and get back even more mana then you spent. We’d never have to worry about running out in combat again.”
“Well good luck with that, I’m still trying to get my lightening shield to work,” he added grumpily. “I think I might have to do a shield inside a shield, but the mechanics of having two different spells pulling mana at the same time is giving me trouble, reminds me of trying to rub my stomach and pat my head, or wheel my arms in different directions.”
“Well, if you manage that, then I don’t have to figure it out,” pointed out Jenny quite happily, laughing when Xander called her a moocher.
When the pair made it back to a hotel a week later after a day of shopping, well Jenny shopped and Xander carried her bags, he wasn’t complaining though, he was the one that got to see her in the outfits, there was a surprise waiting for them.
“Mr. and Mrs. Harris?” The clerk stopped them as they headed for the elevator. “You have mail.”
The married couple looked at each other in surprise. They usually called anyone they wished to speak to and the fact they moved around every month or so made it rather hard for regular mail to track them. The clerk cleared his throat and held up a rather plain envelope. Grabbing it and tipping the man the two headed for their suite.
Sitting at the table, Jenny slit the envelope open and pulled out the letter, Xander reading it over her shoulder.
Mr. & Mrs. Harris,
The City of Gotham and the State of New York wishes to hire your services in the same manner that Jump City and California did. We ask that you contact us, face to face in the Mayor’s Office, at your earliest convenience.
Thank you for your time,
The Mayor of Gotham
The couple looked at each other. “Well, that was short and to the point.”
“Well, I guess discussing killing people warrants an in person meeting,” said Xander. He sighed, “What do you want to do?”
Jenny paused, thinking. “We should at least meet with them and find out what they want; we’ve done pretty much anything interesting there is to do in Paris.”
“Alright, we check out tomorrow.”
The town hall of Gotham was a tall, dark and gothic building that fit right in with the rest of the city. The automatic doors whished open at their approach to reveal the rather drab interior of the building. Several armed security guards, looking completely serious, approached them the moment they walked in, one staying back to cover the rest with his gun drawn. “Sir, ma’am, you’ll have to go through the security proceedings. Please pull out your I.D.s and place your bags and shoes on the conveyor, along with any metallic objects. Any resistance will be met with deadly force.” The couple pulled out their I.D.s and with great reluctance Xander surrendered his Guild Bag and Guild Seal while Jenny handed over her own Seal Necklace and purse. A guard gestured for them to walk through the metal detector. When Xander stepped through it went off, dinging and flashing red lights. All the guards immediately drew their weapons, half covering him and half covering Jenny.
“Hands on your head now!” They both complied. One guard stepped forward and began to pat Xander down. He kept quiet, it wasn’t worth the trouble to complain and the search was noninvasive. “Your belt.” Xander looked down in surprise, he didn’t think that his normal belt would set off the sensor; it wasn’t like it had a gigantic buckle or anything. Taking it off he stepped through again, this time with no problems.
The guards gave a small sigh of relieve and holstered their weapons. “What floors are you visiting?”
“Don’t know, we were invited to meet with the Mayor as soon as possible,” answered Jenny, showing them the letter.
The guard briefly looked over it, confirming the names on it matched their IDs, before handing both back. “Top floor then. Sorry about the extra security, but with the crazies in the city we have to be careful. You can collect your belongings now, but please show these badges at all times.” The guard handed over a set of temporary I.D. badges and directed them to the elevator.
When the doors opened again it was to another set of guards who inspected their badges before ushering them through a set of gothic wooden doors to the Mayor’s office beyond. The man at the desk looked up as they entered. His hair was streaked with grey and white and wrinkles lined his face. Surprisingly he was only forty, running Gotham had aged him beyond his years. “I don’t recognize you, and you don’t have an appointment, so I assume you are Mr. and Mrs. Harris?”
“Yeah, that’s right. I’m Xander and this is my wife Jenny.” He paused for a moment, “You know, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of saying that. You wanted to meet with us Mayor McNeil?”
“Please, call me Mark.” He gestured to the two seats in front of his table. He waited for them to settle themselves before he continued. “As the letter mentioned, the city of Gotham and New York are interested in hiring you to dispose of a problem for us.”
“And what problem would that be?” asked Jenny. “I assume it is a person.”
“The Joker,” was Mark’s blunt answer.
“And why haven’t you taken care of him before? You’ve had him in custody enough to execute him,” Xander stated.
“Despite everyone wanting him dead he’s been declared insane by the courts, some crazy judge trying to make some political point or something. Needless to say it didn’t work; guy never presided over a court again. Still, no double jeopardy so Joker went down as criminally insane for his first crime, meaning he can’t be legally executed for anything since. The cops know they have unofficial permission to shoot him, but Batman always manages to get him before us and there are usually news cameras present when he drops him off, so they’ve never had the chance. I will not let him kill any more men, women, or children of Gotham City.”
“So is your hiring of us is illegal? Because we really don’t want trouble with the law, no matter how much money you’re offering,” said Jenny.
“No, no, no, it’s not illegal. California set a precedent that New York is willing to follow and the only reason I didn’t hire you right after the Terra incident was because I had most of my staff looking for loopholes and it took us this long to find one and make the proper preparations,” McNeil explained. “The Joker doesn’t have ties to international terrorist, so most of the Patriot Act loopholes were out. Instead we found an old law on the books that allows a Mayor to assign hunters for anyone who has escaped jail, dates back to the Civil War. If you can get to Joker before Batman can, then you can kill him and walk away scot free with a reward to boot.”
“Why not your police?” was Xander’s next question.
“Because I don’t like to send them on suicide missions. Sending a sharpshooter to the building we know he’s in is one thing, but a building to building sweep, which is what would be required, would cost too many lives. It wouldn’t just be the Joker gunning for my men in those districts. You on the other hand have clearly shown you have powers and don’t have the negative reputations most of the other super powered mercenaries have. I’m offering a million plus any expenses, if you take him down and don’t kill Harley. Will you take the job?”
“Why not Harley?” asked Xander curiously.
“Because she used to be part of the system, has tried to limit deaths when the Joker’s involved, and it would be great publicity if you took her alive and the city managed to reform her.”
The couple looked at each other before Jenny answered for them both; they had already made their decision before arriving. “We’ll do it. What information can you give us?”
The Mayor didn’t answer, he instead tapped his intercom. “Sandy, send in Commissioner Gordon.” A minute later the doors opened, revealing an older gentleman with pure grey hair and wearing glasses.
“I hope this is important Mayor, I was working on something important with Basil down on the third floor.”
“Gordon, this fine couple is Mr. and Mrs. Harris and they’ve agreed to rid us of our Joker problem.”
“You know I never agreed to that plan,” objected Gordon. “Its assassination and an abuse of power.”
“The people of Gotham would agree, they’ve lived in fear too long of the Joker. At least the rest of the freaks usually stick to some kind of robbery and not just mass murder. Now tell them all the information you have on his latest movements and give them any updates as they come in,” ordered the Mayor, steel in his voice.
“I’ll be filing a protest but I’ll comply for now.” Commissioner Gordon turned to the couple. “The latest information indicates that Joker is hiding out in the old ice cream factory, someone has been ordering chemicals using that address and a shell company called ‘Jokes on You Inc.’ Several of his usual thugs, the crazies that always follow him, have been drifting in that direction as well. That’s all we know so far, I’ve been ordered to keep my men back so I can’t give you anything else.”
“Well, thank you gentlemen. We’ll begin investigating immediately and once the deed is done we’ll bring the proof to the police station, no sense dirtying your office.” With a nod the couple left.
Commissioner Gordon followed them a minute later and the moment he was out of sight he pulled out a normal looking cell phone, but to anyone that knew him they’d know it wasn’t his normal one. “The Mayor went with the execution plan, called in a couple named Harris, the same ones that did in Terra. I gave them what information we had, I had to, the Mayor was right there. You’d better hurry if you want to beat them there.” He closed the cell phone and tucked it back into a hidden pocket. “I hope to god they don’t meet, I’d have to clean up the mess,” he muttered.
The old ice-cream factory was exactly that, old. It was in one of Gotham’s many abandoned sections, a neighborhood that had gone downhill ever since the factory closed due to updated FDA regulations that made it cheaper for the owner’s to close then update. The outside walls were rusted, any siding having been stripped away by scavengers and time. Only the faded ice-cream cone, looking melted from where the plastic had fallen away, marked it as different from the other rotting warehouses dotting the area. “Cheery place,” Xander said in a deadpan.
“There goes all your hopes of free ice cream,” observed Jenny. “Don’t worry; I’m sure we can have some…later tonight.” The wicked little grin on her face implied everything.
A matching grin grew on Xander’s face. “If that’s not motivation I don’t know what is.” The grin faded as he got serious. “Remember to keep a shield up at all times; I don’t want to find out if Heal can cure Smilex.”
“I know, I’m more afraid of the bullets.” The Shield spell was designed for medieval age technology such as swords, maces, and arrows along with magic. Lasers, such as the ones used by the Sladebots, worked on the principle of focusing extreme heat on a single point, which was something the shield was capable of dealing with, after all, Fireball was a favorite spell of just about everyone and archmages could create ones that could reduce a fully armored knight to so much ash. Bullets on the other hand were physical, along the lines of maces, except they were hitting with a force stronger than any man could swing. While the shield spell designers had imagined that, they did deal with Trolls after all, they hadn’t thought those impacts could occur dozens of times nearly simultaneously like any handgun could do, they assumed the spell caster would have time to back away, dodge, and drink up a Will potion.
“Slow Time or Assassin’s Rush should work if we can survive the first shot, and if we keep our mana up that shouldn’t be a problem. Weapon ready?”
Jenny hoisted up her bladed staff and tapped the pocket holding a tazer she had picked up at one point, she had been curious about using it with Lightning. “Ready.”
Xander unsheathed the Sword of Aeons and made sure his bow was loose on his back. He leaned over and gave Jenny a kiss. Pulling back he simply said, “For luck.”
The next second he burst through the corroded metal doors with Battle Charge, a spell the propelled the caster forward like a flame wreathed cannon ball. His charge changed into a roll as he dove behind a set of old crates, Jenny following on his heels. A second later he poked his head above the stack to scan the room. “Clear, they must be further in.” No sooner had he finished talking then a group of thugs ran into the room.
“Blast em!” The thugs opened fire on the crates, the bullets spanging off the metal. Jenny retaliated with a fireball, exploding it in the middle of their group and sending them flying. Xander was among them a second later, the flat of his blade breaking arms and cracking heads, quickly sending the remaining crooks to the ground.
“Well, there were the minions, now let’s find the master.” Saying that Jenny cautiously headed toward the doors where the thugs had come from. On the other side was the old mixing room, gigantic vats filled the space and were in turn filled with a thick green glowing goo. The couple could see it dripping down the sides and trickling from improperly fixed holes.
“My guess is that isn’t the secret thirty-second flavor filling those,” whispered Xander, looking at the toxic mixture.
“You’re not the Bat.” A voice that grated on both their nerves filled the air. “Mr. J! We got company and its not rodents.” Harley, was standing on a gangway above the vats, staring down at them.
“WHAT?!” The Joker himself appeared from another door wearing a smock and heavy duty goggles over his trademark purple suit. “Who are you two?”
Jenny and Xander didn’t answer; instead they took the opportunity to attack, each taking the target closest to them. Lightning flew a crossed the room at the two criminals, and missed. Harley dodged, jumping over the blast and swinging over the railing to land on the ground with a gymnast’s grace. Joker simply stepped to the side and let the blast go through the open doorway and out of sight. “Not much for conversation huh?” Joker posed briefly, hand held high like an old time general. “Harley…release the hounds!”
“Sure thing Mr. J.” She whistled shrilly and a pair of large hyenas came bounding into the room.
“Hyenas?! Why is it always hyenas?” Xander complained as he brought his sword to bear.
“I’ll take the dogs and henchgirl, you take the clown,” shouted Jenny as she batted one of the hyenas away with her staff.
“I hate clowns!” Xander yelled back, never the less he moved toward the Joker, throwing more blasts of lightning as he did.
“Well, don’t you have an electrifying personality, much better than the Bat’s,” quipped the Joker as he dodged back into the room he had come from, discarding his smock as he did.
“And the bad jokes are only half the reason,” muttered Xander as he followed. The room on the other side was an old walk in freezer, long since stopped working, with several other doors leading from it. A makeshift workbench had been made set up using two old crates and there was a mix of different chemicals bubbling away on it. He took a step into the room and felt his leg snap a trip wire. “Oh crap.”
The work bench exploded, chemicals flying everywhere. The walls, ceiling, floor, and Xander were all coated in a layer of the stuff, which quickly began to hiss as the various chemicals that should never have been mixed, mixed. The stainless steel walls began to melt as the newly created acid ate into them, filling the room with a toxic cloud. It puddled on the ground, the cement floor refusing to dissolve beneath it as it formed pools. Blinded and feeling his mana being rapidly drained as the virulent liquid tried to eat through his shield, Xander groped for one of the doors, throwing it open and stumbling through.
“I see the bath didn’t improve your mood, it did wonders for me though.” The first bullet took Xander high in the chest, right over his heart. So did the next one, with the third slamming into his head.
Blind, covered in acid, and just about out of mana, Xander took a desperate gamble. He triggered his finally functional bubble shield spell with the last of his mana. It just managed to push a yard outward before he ran out, but it was enough to push the acid away and obscure him from sight. Dropping to the ground he pulled out a Will potion and chugged it, feeling his reserves replenish.
“You survived? Your better than I thought, dumber though, Bats would have never tripped the wire. Still, props kid.” The Joker appeared back in Xander’s sight just as he climbed to his feet. “But you’re in the big leagues now.” Green gas began to fill the room, spraying from a set of smile face decorated balls he had dropped, Smilex.
Xander hurriedly brought his shield back up, thanking god for the filtering properties. While the deadly gas didn’t affect him, it still obscured the room in a green haze, blinding him once again. “God, what I wouldn’t give for a set of goggles…or a giant fan.”
The room was reduced to vague black shapes in green mist, stacks of crates rising and disappearing from view. Xander saw movement from the corner of his eye and turned, blasting at it with a fireball. He incinerated a stack of crates, missing whatever had moved, but the blast at least helped to disperse some of the gas still swirling in the room. “This is why I hate clowns.” With a curse he set about trying to find Joker.
Meanwhile, Jenny was having some trouble of the clown variety as well. Both hyenas were already dead, she had no problem turning them into hot dogs with a well placed fireball, but Harley was another story. It wasn’t that Harley was particularly powerful or dangerous, Jenny had faced down word ending demons and super powered super villains before, but the fact that she was trying to take her alive made it much more difficult. It is quite simple to kill a person, even when you don’t have magical powers, but it is much harder to take them alive, especially if they’re using lethal force in return. The fact Harley was flipping and cart wheeling around like a humming bird on speed, all the while firing her guns like a maniac wasn’t helping matters any. Bullets sprayed the crate she was hiding behind as the crazy harlequin opened fire yet again, showering her with a spray of metal chips. “Alright bitch, enough’s enough. You have to be alive, not in one piece.” She rolled out of cover and sent a short blast of lightning at Harley. It hit her gun, being naturally attracted to the metal, and slagged it, cooking off the ammunition in a small explosion.
“Ahhh!” Harley tumbled backwards and off the stack of crates she had been perched on. She recovered in mid air, doing a back handspring off of one and landing perfectly with a gymnast’s grace. “Ta dah!”
Whack! Jenny’s staff came crashing down on the back of her head, sending her into blissful unconscious. Jenny stared down at the slumped figure, then pulled out her tazer and shocked her, just to make sure she stayed down. She paused, and then kicked her several times for good measure. Stuffing Harley in a crate she picked her staff back up and went to look for Xander. She doubted a normal human could kill him without serious amounts of firepower or surprise, but both of those were things the Joker had in spades.
Speaking of spades, several sliced into the wall next to Xander’s head, embedding almost all the way into the concrete. “You know, I thought they’d be Jokers,” commented Xander as he deflected another set of the deadly cards with his sword.
“Variety is the spice of life, and I’m spicier then that new Taco Bell meal.” Joker’s insane laughter echoed from all around him.
“You’re also a few tacos short of a combo plate,” came Xander’s reply.
Joker’s laughter stopped abruptly. “You’re mocking me!”
“No, whatever gave you that idea?” Xander looked around, he still had no idea where Joker was hiding, it was scary how good the guy was at moving around unseen considering he wore a purple and lime green suit.
“No one mocks the Joker!” This time it wasn’t simply a couple of shots that slammed into Xander, it was an entire clip of high velocity rounds. Where Joker had gotten military grade hardware, Xander had no idea. His shield, still at full strength, took most of the clip, but then he ran out of mana and the shield died. The shots slammed into his body, breaking his limbs, shattering his shoulder, and driving through his organs. He collapsed to the ground in a puddle of blood.
“Awwwwww, you look like you could use a helping hand.” Joker appeared, reached down and grabbed Xander’s broken arm. Thousands of volts were sent streaming into Xander from the killer joy buzzer on his palm. Xander screamed, his convulsions forcing the shattered remains of his bones through his skin like gigantic, bloody splinters, causing even more internal damage. Even with the extensive changes wrought in his body thanks to the Guild Seal magics, making him stronger and tougher than any normal human could possibly be, he was right on death’s door.
Xander’s scream choked off and he started coughing, black blood and bile dribbling down his lips. Joker leaned down, cupping his ear. “What was that, I didn’t quite catch it?”
Xander coughed again, blood speckling Joker’s suit. “You’re not a Joker…you’re a fool.” While dying, he still had a grip on the Sword of Eons and its powerful mana augment was already refilling his reserves, just enough to cast a healing spell. The blue glow encapsulated him, but wasn’t strong enough to heal of his wounds, instead focusing on the major injuries, but even those were too much to heal for the single casting. His shoulder and legs remained shattered, but his internal injuries had healed. Still, he had one usable arm, the one still holding the sword in a death grip, and he brought it around, the razor sharp blade slicing clean through Joker.
Organs and blood sloshed over him as the Joker collapsed cut cleanly in twain. Xander laid there for a moment, not wishing to have to dig through his pouch looking for a healing potion and jarring his still broken legs and wounded body in the process. He waited until he was sure he had enough mana to cast two healing spells, it would be rather ironic if he cast the spell once then bled out through he gashes the broken bones had caused.
Finally climbing to his feet he decapitated the Joker and stuffed the head in his pouch; it would stay in stasis until he got back to the police station.
“You look like a wreck.” Jenny’s statement startled him; he had been lost in his thoughts, not a smart thing to do in the middle of an enemy base.
He looked down at himself, realizing she was right. His clothes were charred and melted from where the acid had hit and large gashes marked where his bone had torn through. Several bits of internal organs were stuck to him as well. “He was tough; Batman must be insane for handling him all these years.”
“Uh…Xander?” He glanced up from inspecting his destroyed boots at Jenny’s rather shocked call. Right behind him was Batman and the Justice League.
Author’s Note: Alright, finally some progress. I’ve been sitting on this for a while now, but between my trip abroad and having to write the Joker, I’ve been rather hesitant to post it.
Just so you know, this is based on the Joker from the cartoons, which is the only Batman I ever really followed. I tried to include lots of his classic gags, like the razor throwing cards and acid. I hope I did an okay job, the guys a bitch to write and I really respect Cyclone for his excellent job in ‘The Nighthawk chronicles.’
Once again, reviews appreciated