A/N: First ever recommendation! Thank you! Cranked out another, just hit a spate of free time really. Spot the one off guest crossover!
Chapter TwoSunnydale, 1999
Waiting again. Ergh, he was sick of waiting. Reminded him of that time Sgt. Andrews...wait, not him. Mark. The ODST. Xander smirked slightly and rubbed his forehead. Even a year later, it was still difficult to separate the memories. Still, those memories had made some big changes around here. Xander sat there in the chair, listening to their extremely evil mayor ramble on in with some speech (and god, was he going to do the whole thing?!) and thought over the events of the year. Getting emancipated from his parents and moving in with Buffy. The new Slayer, Faith, who he had grown decidedly close to and now sat next to. He'd seen the shred of darkness in her heart, Mark had seen a similar look in the eyes of young men returning from battle: like they had to grow too old too fast. He'd bonded with her and the two had become inseparable. He shuddered to think what could have happened to her had he not been around, or had the foresight to see the internal struggle she had fought since childhood.
From the earpiece hidden discreetly in Xander's ear came the voice of Angel “, okay Xander, protection squad in place. We're set.”
“Alright, I guess we wait for the fireworks,” Xander replied.
After re-ensouling him, Xander had a long talk with Angel, who saw Xander's point of view. He moved to L.A at the start of the summer, opening his own private investigation business. His employees included an Irish Bracken demon seer by the name of Doyle who had visions of people in trouble from the Powers That Be, a tough street fighter Xander had immediately gelled with (and gave a crash course in ODST hand to hand styles) named Gunn and a young female physicist named Fred whom the team had saved from a jealous college professor trying to have her sucked into another dimension. Turns out Doyle had a vision of the Mayor transforming in a gigantic snake in front of a banner that had a message of congratulations for the Sunnydale class of '99. The team had contacted Giles and after a short conference call, headed to Sunnydale to assist. It had been tough on Buffy, but between graduating and trying to prevent the Mayor from eating everyone, she had kept herself in check and ploughed on.
“You okay boy toy?” Faith asked, using his nickname he had earned after the night they had gotten intimate. Xander hadn't really been ready to take that step if he was honest, but they'd agreed to just let the chips fall where they may.
“Yeah...it's just times like this I wish I had a Spartan tucked away for special occasions,” Xander grumbled, more to himself than in reply.
“Huh?” Faith whispered back, her brow furrowed in confusion.
“Don't worry...I got you to watch my back don't I, my Slayer sweetie?” Xander said, cooing and grinning at Faith, purely because he knew it annoyed her.
“Keep that up 'n I'll throw you to the Mayor myself,” Faith said, grinning slightly and socking him in the arm.
Suddenly, the sky began to go black and the Mayor himself began to faint, grabbing at the podium as he collapsed saying something about missing a section of his speech. A massive snake than reared up it its places as the stage collapsed underneath his weight. He then turned towards a ranting Principal Snyder and ate him whole. Thank heaven for small favours.
“Alright!” Xander said, standing up, throwing off his robe and raising his silenced MP5 “, now!”
At once, the entire graduating class of Sunnydale High stood up and threw off their robes, all producing some kind of weaponry from underneath. Xander turned to see a bunch of vampire emerge to try and corral them towards the Mayor. Just as Xander had expected.
“Angel, now!” Xander yelled into his earpiece, as Angel and his team emerged from the shadows nearby, engaging the vamps. The Battle of Graduation Day had begun in its earnest.
New Mombasa9 hours after drop
“Why do I get the feeling we're following the breadcrumbs?” Xander said, looking at the charred remains of the mounted Gauss cannon that overlooked a city square that had seen a pretty hellacious fight only recently.
“I've been trying the radio too, you know that, my squad aren't answering,” Mark replied, taking a seat on the ground next to the cannon.
The balcony they were on afforded them a little shelter with which to keep out of the way of Covenant patrols and as much as Xander wanted to press on, he had to admit that he could use a little rest himself.
“So...care to explain what in the hell you're doing here?” Mark asked, removing his helmet. Xander saw turned and looked at him properly for the first time, this man who had changed his life forever and didn't even realise it. He had shoulder length jet black hair that slightly hid his piercing blue eyes and a 5 o'clock shadow covered the lower portion of his face.
“Okay...first of all, I can't tell you everything right now. Partially because I don't like repeating myself over and over and your squad will need to hear this too. And partially because it would take way too long, time we can't afford to waste right now. But I can tell you that you weren't dreaming. While you were out in your pod, you were in control of my body via chaos magic,” Xander began.
“Magic? Okay, you a Covenant sympathiser, is that it? Some kinda spy?” Mark grunted, reaching for his magnum.
“You wanted some answers, you're getting them,” Xander replied. Nothing in his face or body language told Mark that he was lying.
“Fine, carry on,” Mark said.
“Okay, so after the spell was broken and you returned to your own body, you left like, an imprint of yourself behind. Your memories and skills, they stayed, buried somewhere within my brain,” Xander explained.
“So...why me? How?” Mark asked.
“That's where I gotta stop. Because I can hear a Phantom,” Xander replied, hooking a thumb up over the balcony's edge just above their heads.
Mark peered out and saw it, a Phantom dropping another Covenant patrol that was headed into the ground floor of their building.
“Looks like this wasn't such a good place to rest after all,” Mark grumbled, picking up his silenced sub-machine gun.
Standing either side of the only doorway to the balcony, they waited until a lone Brute came bounding through. Mark quickly snuck up behind him and broke his spine with a sharp blow from the stock of his gun. Turning to Xander, he pointed through the doorway and walked through, Xander following him. Both their VISR's (the night-time combat tactical system inside an ODST's helmet) activated, they entered the darkened apartment building. At once, Mark grinned. In these conditions, the roles were reversed. He and Xander stopped being the hunted and became the hunters. After all, an ODST works better at night.
It was over. Xander picked a folding steel chair that had collapsed during the battle and opened it out, taking a seat. It was a blessing in disguise, the eclipse, it meant Angel could get into the fight. Of course, he operated more efficiently than in the daytime himself. After all, an ODST works better at night.
“So, big enough bang for you toy boy?” came a voice from behind him, as Faith came strutting into view.
“Just glad the thing went off,” Xander replied “, is Buffy okay?”
“Yeah, B's over there with Willow, Oz and Giles. What happened to Angel?” Faith asked.
“Took off. Guess he was taking seeing her again harder than he thought too,” Xander answered “, Cordelia went with him. Said it was her best chance at a steady job while she waited for her inevitable stardom.”
Xander chuckled for a moment. Regardless of their strange relationship, Cordelia had grown as a person. Helping out Angel was probably the best thing for her right now.
“And you? What you gonna do now?” asked another voice from out of his sight.
Buffy, Willow, Oz and Giles walked up, all either sitting on the ground or standing near Faith.
“Not sure Buff, sleep definitely comes to mind though,” Xander said with a smile.
Over the past year, Buffy and Xander had come to terms with what had happened. Buffy had settled her differences, realising Angel's departure was for the best, and after Angel's admittance that he would have suggested leaving sooner or later anyway, she and Xander had reconciled.
“No, you big doofus. I mean, from now on. We did it guys,” Buffy said with a small smile.
“Yeah, that is one toasty mayor,” Oz added.
“No, I mean...we finished high school,” Buffy clarified.
“And I always thought that place would be the death of me,” Xander said with a broad smile.
“But, it's such a shame, I mean, you guys aren't going to miss the library?” Willow asked with a slight tone of sadness, as if she'd just finished watching Bambi's mother get shot.
“Not at all?” Giles added with a similar sort of loss to his voice.
“Oh wow. No. Not in the slightest there G-man,” Xander replied, getting up from the chair “, and to answer your question Buff, I'm thinking of doing some travelling.”
“Travelling? Like where?” Buffy inquired.
“What with all the chaos of the past two years, I still haven't got to the bottom of this armour and how it got here. I thought I might go looking for answers,” Xander replied.
“But you have no leads,” Giles pointed out.
“Ah actually, I do. Thought I might start with a certain Brian O'Toole,” Xander told them.
“O'Toole? As in Jack O'Toole? The guy who nearly blew us up a few months back?” Willow asked.
“His grandfather. He was the guy who raised him from the dead. The bit I can't figure out...how in the hell did Jack and his cronies know how to build a bomb? Jack mentioned his grandfather being some kind of special forces Vietnam vet. Match that with the strong magic mojo he's apparently packing and I say it's the closest thing I have to a lead so far,” Xander explained.
“I suppose. Are you alright for money? I have some-” Giles began, before being promptly cut off.
“Stop right there Giles, I'm fine. I've had this idea lingering since the beginning of the school year, managed to put some money away, should be enough for the whole summer,” Xander replied.
“So where is this Brian O'Toole?” Faith asked “, and when do we leave?”
“Miami. And we?” Xander said, turning to face Faith.
“Hell, team-mates for life boy toy. You said it yourself, I got your back. And I also got connections down in Florida,” Faith replied.
“Connections?” Xander asked, worried as to what nefarious characters Faith may be referring to.
“Naw, this guy's legit. Helps people out. Clued in to the night-life too. He helped me get away from Kakistos,” Faith said.
“I like him already. I guess we're Miami bound,” Xander replied, as the group walked away from the smouldering remains of Sunnydale High.
MiamiA month later
“You Xander Harris?” came a voice from behind him.
Xander turned to see a handsome looking athletic looking man in his mid twenties, wearing an expensive looking suit and sunglasses and carrying a suitcase.
“Who wants to know?” he replied.
“Michael Westen. Faith said you needed help?” the man answered, hooking a thumb towards the brunette teasing a horde of guys on the dance floor.
“Yeah. I need you to find this guy,” Xander replied, handing over a manilla folder containing all the information about Brian O'Toole that Willow could hack out of government files.
Westen opened the envelope, quickly glancing at its contents before putting the folder inside his suitcase.
“I usually charge for my services, but Faith says you helped her slay Kakistos. Means I owe you for looking out for her,” Westen informed him.
Xander smiled. A guy with a sense of honour. Not to mention an incredibly sharp dress sense. Here's a guy Xander could get along with. Plus, he just had to find out where Westen got that suit cut.
“I appreciate that,” Xander said, giving him a friendly smile and handshake.
“I'll contact you in a few days with your information. In the mean time, you and Faith go get yourselves a tan, have fun. God knows that girl needs fun,” Westen said, before picking up his suitcase and leaving.
Xander looked around. Hell, why not? When in Rome...
New Mombasa, 255210 hours after drop...
“Well I'll be a Grunt's nut-sack....” Mark muttered, as Xander caught up with him.
Looking out across the bay, they saw the charred hulk of what used to be the ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) Alpha Site headquarters. In his hand, Mark held a badly damaged detonator.
“No mistaking this. This is ODST work. My squad has been here,” Mark informed him, as Xander silently nodded.
They stood there for a while, taking in the sheer spectacle in front of them. After a moment or so, Xander spoke up.
“Where to now?” he asked.
As soon as he asked, the Superintendent displayed a marker on their heads-up display.
“Okay, I guess we're headed there,” Xander said, as the two of them left the crash site locked back in formation, headed for the new co-ordinates.
Half an hour later...
Mark picked the bent up sniper rifle off the power lines with a piece of metal that was lying nearby and caught it as it fell.
“This is Romeo's,” Mark said as Xander nodded, recalling the brief memory of Mark first meeting the acerbic no nonsense squad sniper “, god-knows how it got here though.”
“So another dead end?” Xander asked, his patience starting to wear thin. He needed to find his-MARK'S squad, and fast.
“No, Superintendent's now informing me of a commotion across the city, a squad of men hi-jacking a Phantom and moving along the city's sky-rail system,” Mark told him.
“Has to be our guys,” Xander replied “, you know anyone else planet-side who could pull of hi-jacking a Phantom from right under the Covenant's nose?”
“I guess, Superintendent's giving us last known co-ordinates now,” Mark said, as a new marker appeared on their HUDs.
“Ooooooooookay, let's move I guess. The faster we're all together, the better I guess,” Xander said.
The Florida Quays, 1999
God, this guy was going to get it. And not in the good way. Faith peered through the window as she saw the various body parts hanging around in Brian O'Toole's boathouse. Turned out he was a budding necromancer and raising his grandson wasn't a one time deal. Fucker was trying to raise an army to muscle in on local crime syndicates and take over. She planned to leave a massive Faith shaped hole in his plan.
“Alright Faith,” came Xander's voice through her earpiece “, on my mark, three, two-”
“Wait, on three or after three?” Faith asked.
“What? After, with me, it's always after!” Xander said in hushed tones.
“Okay, one, two-” Xander began, before a massive explosion blew Brian O'Toole boathouse to thousands of pieces, sending both Faith and Xander, who was in place on the other side, rocketing back into the water. Climbing up on to the wharf, Xander found Faith who had already made it out of the ocean.
“Guess this lead's a bust,” Faith said.
“No,” Xander said, trying to catch his breath “, he wasn't inside. Which meant he knew we were coming. And the explosives went off just as we were about to breach. Meaning he must be nearby.”
“Correct, boy,” came a Texan accent from behind them as Xander heard the sharp click of a .44 magnum revolver hammer clicking back.
Xander turned, his Desert Eagle drawn, to see that the barrel was pressed to the back of Faith's head and the wielder was none other than Brian O'Toole, Vietnam vet and necromancer.
“Now I heard you two done my Jack in. Can't be lettin' that slide now,” Brian said, keeping his eyes on Faith.
“Then answer me this O'Toole...why tell Jack to blow up the school? He can't have known how to build a bomb, but someone with your experience, it would be like...baking a cake,” Xander said.
“Want the truth, Harris?” O'Toole said, provoking a glimmer of response from Xander's eyes. He knew his name. But how?
“That's why I asked,” Xander said with an humourless grin.
“You. Someone paid me a lot of money to have you killed. Figured, you were some school kid punk, and when my Jack died, I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone,” O'Toole replied.
“You raised Jack and told him he could have the secrets to raising his buddies if he blew up the school,” Xander realised.
“And you're right again. 'Cept you're no punk kid are you Harris? Which unit are you with? Black ops?” O'Toole asked.
The humourless grin returned to Xander's face “, you should worry about yourself, Mr. O'Toole.”
As soon as he finished, Faith span on her heels, snatching the gun from his hand and bending the barrel askew before abruptly taking the man down, knocking him out cold.
“What's say we get our Mr. O'Toole in for some more questioning in more...hospitable surroundings?” Xander said, as Faith nodded and picked up Brian O'Toole over her shoulder, hauling him away with them.
It was gonna be a long night.
New Mombasa, 255210 hours after drop...
It was gonna be a long night.
Mark and Xander had found an ODST bio-foam canister where the Superintendent had led them, but the sky-rail entrance was closed and the door couldn't be overridden.
It was then that they heard it.
“Buck, are you out there?” came the familiar female voice over their VISR communication “, this is Dare. I'm in the city underground, close to the Superintendent core. They've got me pinned in and I'm low on ammo, if you can assist-”
Then there was static.
“The underground! Dare! Let's head to her, she needs help and right now, she's the only squad member we could possibly reach,” Xander said.
“Alright, the underground it is, Superintendent, could you give us the nearest underground entrance co-ordinates?” Mark asked the city computer.
“Have a pleasant day in New Mombasa, citizen,” chirped an overly chipper robotic voice as yet another marker appeared on their HUDs.
“I guess we move again. On me,” Mark said, as the two of them set out in the dark New Mombasa night towards the city's dark and cavernous underground.
A/N: You'll get some answers soon, I promise, I'm not gonna pull a Lindeloff and Cuse on you guys. As always, reviews are candy! :D