Sometimes a Change of Scenery is a Good Thing
I do not own anything that belongs to the Wizards of the Coast, or Mutant Enemy. I am only playing with their characters and worlds. The original characters are mine.
A.N. This is my first fan fiction story. Enjoy and please review.
In a dimension above and slightly sideways to the prime material plane, Janus observed the machinations of the Powers that Be and scowled. As elder god of change, chaos, beginnings and endings, and possibilities in general, the interference of higher and lower beings into the lives of mortals automatically came to his attention. Mostly it was innocuous stuff that followed the rules and was therefore out of his purview. However events on the Hellmouth over the last several years had drawn his attention. Normally the Hellmouth was always throwing up various magical signals and alerts with its many demonic influences and the slayer's arrival had only made things more hectic. Also the slayer's mix of human and chained demonic power tended to obscure low power spells around her from even a god's casual glance.
Sadly for the PTB, they had forgotten that Janus, who always enjoyed when their little games of destiny and prophecy unraveled right in front of them, had twice noticed Alexander, and was keeping an eye on him, albeit a distant and subtle eye. His defiance of the prophecy of the slayer's death and the major kink that had caused in the PTB's plans had been hilarious and further proof to Janus, that humanity did not as a general rule take being dictated to very well. The second time Alexander had defied fate was with his stopping O'Tool and his zombie buddies from exploding a bomb underneath the school and temporarily opening the Hellmouth. The plan was for the bomb to destabilize the hell portal just enough to kill Xander and most if not all the rest of the Scooby gang and then, as the bomb was not magical in any way, the Hellmouth would snap shut after the equivalent of a bad hiccup.
After his second decisive thwarting of destiny and the forces of iron-bound rules, the PTB had decided to deal with the annoyance once and for all. Using both the hellmouth and the slayers' back round magical noise as cover, they slipped a very subtle curse under the radar, the current cause of Janus' anger. The curse was very subtle for it did not effect its target directly in any major way, it simply encouraged the target to not improve himself. It did not stop him from doing anything, that would have been noticed, it simply sapped his energy and will to do anything decisive or positive for himself. For someone in Xander's position to not improve was at best a show stopper and at worst led to a very gruesome death. It was only because Janus was already subtly keeping an eye on the boy that he notice the change in Xander's personal energy and spirit. He had immediately recognized something was off and all the subtlety in their trunk of the multiverse could not keep an elder god from finding the cause of such a dramatic shift in a normal mortal's life.
Growling, Janus studied the curse again. It was, he grudgingly admitted, a masterful piece of work. It left almost no chance of the subject being able to have a successful life without technically taking away his power of choice. It was technically just within the rules, even if it totally trampled on its spirit. Leaning back Janus considered, if things continued on their current path Alexanders prospects were quite dim. However to break the curse would require either a extremely noticeable use of pure power to blast it away, or a complete separation of the subject from the PTB's influence and reach so that the curse would, cut off from its power source, fade away.
The first option was out of the question, but the second option, that had potential. However it would require some thought and fore planning for the reach of the PTB's was quite long and simply transferring him to another nearby dimension would not cut it. It would have to be somewhere outside of the local dimensional cluster. Someplace far away. Someplace like...
Janus grinned, 'now that's an intriguing idea!' Not only would it get Alexander away from those annoying pain in the asses. It would allow him to for a brief moment look in on his old home. It would be quite a trip even for him, but he was not the elder god of portal and doorways for nothing. His ability to travel far outstripped that of other gods. Most other gods could not travel outside of their branch of the multiverse. And almost none bothered to learn about the other branches that existed out there, on the other side of the pure screaming madness and true chaos that existed in the gulfs between the branches of the multiverse.
But Janus had crossed that gulf before and would do so again, it was the only way to guarantee that the PTB could not follow. Getting up form his metaphorical seat Janus set to work, “this was going to be fun!”
- - - - - - - - - - -
Alexander, 'Xander', Harris' was not having a good day. In fact, it could be said that he had not had a good day in several weeks, so today was simply par for the course. Two weeks ago his wedding had come crashing down around his ears due to the interference of a time traveling old coot, and his own insecurities. That however had just been the start of a string of bad luck. His boss had told him that he would likely be out of work after this job, as the company was transferring to San Francisco. His apartment had mysteriously sprung leaks and odd sounds, and he was pretty sure his new neighbor was a demon of some sort, judging by the odd noises and occasional smell that wafted down the hall. But worst of all, Buffy and Willow were still not talking to him. They blamed him for the failed wedding and were mad that his chance for a 'normal life' had gone up in flames. Even Giles had been disproving of his handling of the situation, Xander reflected. At least he had been mature enough not turn completely away from him, and respected his decision to not marry Anya.
Entering his 80's era apartment complex Xander, ignored the sweet overripe banana scent wafting from his neighbor's apartment and looked at his front door with its carved cross motif. The only good thing I've done since the high school bomb, he reflected as he unlocked the door. At least it might be of some use as a vamp deterrent.
His apartment was a mess, clothes lay heaped in the bedroom around the unmade bed, and the kitchen sink was stacked with dirty dishes. An old green couch sat in the living room covered in books and some half made stakes and a battle-axe. Looking at the half formed stakes, he snorted, the girls apparently expected him to continue doing all the repair and weapons making work, even while they shunned him. Picking up the book on the couch arm, a text on the classifications of demons and other supernatural beings along with some of their basic strengths and weaknesses, he relaxed onto the couch and tried to start reading. After a few pages he gave up in disgust, nothing seemed to be sticking in his head.
“Perhaps my brain is mad at me too,” he thought with a snort. “might as well get some sleep if I can't do anything productive.”
- - - - - - - - - - -
“Hello welcome to Wonderland. This evening we will be focusing on life and the meaning of the number 42.”
Xander had woken up to many different situations. The leering faces of vampires and demons were some of his personal favorites, they worked better then coffee for getting you up and moving. Waking to the concerned faces, and occasionally well built chests, of his friends was also an excellent if more relaxing way to wake as well. Waking to a silver mask that vaguely resembled Gandhi was a new one. The rest of the head seemed curiously indistinct with the hair seemingly to be in all different styles simultaneously.
“That is correct!”
Xander blinked. “Uuhhh...Who are you?”
“I am Janus. And to answer your next question, this is your mind.”
Looking around at the dull gray tinged library, that looked suspiciously like his old high school library, Xander sighed in resignation. “So, not that I'm ungrateful that you decided to stop by and mess with my mind again. But what do you want?”
“The PTB broke the spirit of the rules and that annoys me. Consequently I want to offer you a deal.”
Xander blinked. “Why me?”
Walking over to the black board Janus, whose face now resembled a serious Ben Stein, pulled a piece of glowing pink chalk from somewhere and started to draw. “Because you are the one they cursed and in doing so made a mockery of the rules.”
“WHAT?” Xander yelped. “Curses are not good! ...wait a minute I thought higher and lower being could not directly interfere like that in anymore? That's a major rule that was put in place after the Twilight of the Gods. Its one of the few things all of the books agree on.”
Janus nodded as he continued to draw on the board. “It is but they were tricky about it so listen up. What they did was not technically interfering because it did not stop you or force you to do anything. What they did was much more subtle. Tell me how have you felt personally for the last few years?
“Uh, off the top of my head? Kinda well tired I guess.” said Xander as he took a seat in one of the reading chairs and started to study Janus' drawing curiously. He could see the words Free Will in the top left corner of the board and the word Destiny in the top right. Under each was what looked to be a rune of some sort. Down the middle of the board was a thick line dividing the board in two.
“That's because what they did was essentially put a drain into your personal energy. It left you just enough energy to live but not enough to allow you to really work hard on anything, particularly on anything that would cause self change. Like learning, exercising, or anything that really requires personal commitment and drive.”
Xander slumped. “Shit”
“Both an eloquent description of your situation and recent life I'd say.” Janus said in irritatingly perky voice as he put what seemed to be the last few touches on his drawing board masterpiece. Stepping to the side of the board he took a lectures pose and his voice took a definite English upper crust accent. “Alright this how it works, I cannot call the PTB on their little game and simply remove the curse because they are not technically braking the rules. However its close enough to the line that as long as I don't brake the rules they can't call me on anything I do either. So this is the deal, I am offering to send you to a place very far away so that the curse will essentially die due to being cut off from the PTB.”
Xander stared at the board. In the center of the board was what looked like pink bunny with a pink dagger facing off against an equally pink figure in armor wielding what looked like a broom. He was starting to get the sense that Janus, while an extraordinary powerful god, was a rather eccentric deity. “How far is far exactly? Are we talking alternate dimension or what?”
Janus chuckled. “Oh much farther then that. The PTB can reach all the dimensions in this cluster. We will have to go to another branch of existence to escape their claws. However that is immaterially really, do you wish to be free and have a chance at a good life or not?
“When could I come back?”
“not exactly sure at least a year most likely two.”
it could work, Xander thought. Its not like the gang needs me all that much and this sounds like my the only chance at actually having a life. Better to disappear for a while then to die on them, and besides it would get me out of Sunydale
Xander was under no illusions about how the girls felt about him and his place as the normal one of the group. He knew he could disappear and as long as the girls thought he was safe, Giles would be the only one who would really miss him. “Before I agree lets talk details. Where am I going exactly and what would I need to bring?”
“My old home and nothing respectively.”Janus replied.
“Nothing, you cant take things from one dimensional cluster to another its against the rules. People yes, anything else no.”
“Well if nothing else it should be interesting.” Xander muttered to himself. “I'll need a few days to arrange things before I go.”
“Take a week. Just be in theater 13 at the Cinemax at midnight and I'll do the rest.”
“Alright see you then.”Xander said as the library started to revolve in a stomach twisting manner. A few moments later he was sleeping normally once again.
- - - - - - - - -
A week later Xander strode into the ten thirty showing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in theater 13 with a big bucket of popcorn under one arm and the largest soda he could by in the other. He had no idea if such luxuries as junk food existed were he was going and he was determined to enjoy while he could. The last week had been hectic with having to write his will, vacate his apartment and generally set things in order so that he could disappear for long time without anyone wondering were he went. All of his assets had been liquidated, as meager as they were, and put into a savings account with Giles as the executive. The hardest part had been telling the girls that he was leaving the Sunnydale to go take another stab at having a country wide road trip. Buffy and Willow had done all the requisite crying about how much they would miss him, but he could tell that they were relieved to see him go. They though he would be safe away from the Hellmouth. Giles had been the only one Xander had told the truth to and he had understood the necessity of both leaving and keeping it from the other members of the Scooby Gang.
So here he was sitting in a movie theater wearing a pair of jeans a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops ready for his inter dimensional trip to begin. An hour and half later and the movies credits were rolling and Xander had finished two buckets of popcorn and 3 jumbo sodas. As the people started to file out he sat back in in seat and waited.
“Ready kid?” Janus asked from directly behind him.
“AHH...Don't do that!” Xander yelped as he jumped to his feet. “And yes I'm ready to roll.”
“Funny you should mention that.” Janus said with what sounded suspiciously like a smirk. Turning slightly he used his index finger to draw a vertical line in the air which quickly expanded into a oval shaped crack in reality. “In you go, we need to move before the PTB detect my presence.” Xander stared at the portal. This was it, after this there was no going back. If he had to leave he would go with style. “Geronimo!” he yelled as he jumped feet first into the portal.
Tumbling around the portal Xander began feel like he was in a giant flushing toilet. However it only lasted for a few moments before he was spat out on the solid gray marble floor in a tangle of limbs. After doing an internal check of all major limbs and general health he decided that he was good to go. Opening his eyes Xander saw only a floor of solid gray marble that stretched in every direct. A thick gray mist obscured everything and limited visibility to about twenty feet.
“Enjoy your trip?” Janus asked from his side.
“As I still have my clothes were are we and what went wrong?” Xander asked after realizing that he indeed was still dressed in his favorite shirt.
“Absolutely nothing. This is my dimension and we will need to use my ritual chamber to open a path to the other dimensional branch. Follow me.” Janus stated as he walked off in a seemingly random direction. After about five minutes of walking through the seemingly never ending mists they reached what looked to be a barn made out of the same gray marble as the ground. The inside of the barn was taken up with what large circle made out of thousand of runes and symbols carved into the rock in hideously complicated patterns. The rest of the building was completely bare and made out of the same gray marble as everything else. It was Xander reflected extremely depressing.
“Stand in the center and we can begin our trip down the rabbit hole.” Janus ordered. Shrugging Xander did so and then watched as Janus started to mumble to himself and make some complicated looking passes with his hands. Walking to to the stand in the center of the circle he grabbed Xander by the shoulder and the Universe fell apart.
Xander screamed, he was in a tunnel were he could see sounds and hear colors. Strange impossible shapes danced in front of him as his bones bent and his skin became as hard as steel. It seemed to go on forever and was over in an instant. He huddled on the cool floor shivering until he got enough strength actually process what his senses were telling him. He was on floor of stone around him he could hear wind currents and further off a deep crackling, like static only stronger. The wind tickled in various places that immediately drove home the fact he was completely naked. Opening his eyes he could see the vaulted roof far above him in the soft light that seemed to emit from the unadorned granite walls. Steadying his shaking limbs he slowly climbed to his feet. At one end of the chamber, that rightly deserved the title hall, was an opening to what he presumed was the outside. At the other was a set of what looked to be bronze doors fifty feet tall.
Janus was standing in front of the doors apparently meditating. Walking closer Xander could see that he was in fact glowing slightly with a rope of dark ivory light extended from his left palm to the door. “Glad to see you made the trip in one piece, kid. Give me second here.. ahh there we are.” he said as loud groan heralded the doors opening towards them. “That's what I call solid construction. Forty five thousand years later and still working.”
“Were are we? And more importantly is there any clothing? ...Wait forty five thousand?” Xander inquired.
“Yep, this is my first time back. Its been a while even as I reckon time.” Janus said as he strode through the now partiality open doors. “lets see clothing, clothing, clothing. There should be something around here.”
Xander followed Janus through the open doors. On the other side was a large hallway that sloped up at about a thirty five degree angle and extended for a hundred yards. On either side of the door was two great statues each roughly forty feet high depicting a man in full armor with rough hewed features, a crested helmet, and a titanic hammer resting on his shoulder. Standing along the walls of the tunnel were twenty smaller statues ten to a side. These statues were also of men in armor with the same crested helms but were only about ten feet tall. Climbing up the ascending hallway they reached a hall that looked comparable to a football stadium in size.
“Welcome to my old home Alexander, welcome to the Granite Halls.”