Premonition in Ink
word count: 1,763
Details: Takes place three years after the end of Early Edition. (Please note that I haven't seen the entire series) For Buffyverse it's the night before the final battle aka the episode Chosen. There is slash in the form of Spike/Xander. If you don't like that sort of thing, don't grump at me about it, just don't read it.
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or Early Edition. No money is being made. This is written purely for fun.
Special thanks goes to my beta who asked me if I was asleep when I first typed this up. LOL If it wasn't for her I'd be giving you all a garbled mess of words. Heh.
Summary: Gary gets his paper as usual, but this time the headline shakes his world more than any other before it.
He was floating in that warm place, somewhere between sleep and wakefulness - it was a nice place to be. He was content, comfy, no worries, no cares.
BEEP BEEP BEEP
Right on schedule his alarm sounded followed by the morning news. Gary groaned and smacked at his clock radio just as a cat made it's presence known in the main hall.
“Hang on Cat.” He called as he lifted the covers up and staggered out of his room. “I'm coming.” Gary wiped the sleep from his face, making a brief detour to plug the coffee pot in before opening the door. Cat dashed passed him straight to his food bowl. “Good morning to you too.” He grumbled as he picked up his paper. Not ready to face whatever the fates had tossed him this morning, he piddled around the apartment through his morning rituals of getting dressed and pouring his coffee.
“Mrooow.” Cat swatted at his ankles as he passed the orange tom.
“Easy, I'll get there.” Gary shook his head and finally sat at the table with his coffee and looked at the front page. He put down his cup with a shaky hand, his breath left his lungs in a short and shocked gasp. “Oh my god.”
“Hey Gare!” Chuck called out as he opened the door without knocking...again. “What's going on in the sports section?” He plopped down in a chair across from his friend and snagged the untouched coffee. “Gare?”
“Chuck I need your help.”
“Oh no, not again.”
“This is important, it's big.”
“It's always important.”
“Look!” Gary shoved the paper at his friend.
Chuck sighed and read the headline. “Holy! Geeze!” He put aside all thoughts of making fast money. “What do you need?”
“I need a list of phone numbers for Sunnydale, California.”
“You got it.” Chuck made his way to Gary's computer and fired it up, taking Gary's coffee with him.
Gary never noticed the loss of his drink, he was too busy reading the article. His eyes kept straying toward the headline.
TOWN IN SOUTH CALI WIPED OFF MAP
A whole town was going to disappear tomorrow, nothing left but a crater. He had no idea what he could do from Chicago, but he couldn't do nothing. Gary just hoped no one local needed saving today.
Gary sat at his kitchen table, the printouts Chuck had found spread out in front of him. They'd been at it for hours, going through all the phone directories Chuck had located. They'd called homes, businesses, the mayor's office, the police, even the hospital. No one in Sunnydale answered their phones.
Chuck had passed out from exhaustion a while ago on the couch and Cat remained ever vigilant on the arm of a chair, napping.
Frustrated beyond anything he had ever felt after years of dealing with the mystic paper, he pushed the sheets of numbers to the floor, rubbing his eyes in defeat. He couldn't do it. Either the town was empty...or everyone that he could have saved was already dead. Same difference really.
He looked at Cat. “I tried, I've been trying all day, all night. There's no one there.”
Cat hopped down from his perch and headed towards the scattered papers. He batted at one particular sheet and looked pointedly back at Gary.
“Fine, one more.” He took the sheet from Cat, earning a scratch for his trouble. “Hey, watch it. Ungrateful.” Gary grumbled and looked at the sheet of numbers in his hand. The first thing he saw was the name Summers.
Quickly he dialed the number and waited. It rang five times and he was about to hang up when there was a click.
“Thank god! I've been calling numbers in Sunnydale since this morning. No one picked up!”
“Yeah, town is pretty much deserted.” The voice on the other end was a man, a young man maybe, but Gary couldn't really place his age on voice alone.
He blinked. “Oh...so you know? Have there been like warning tremors or something?”
There was a pause. “Tremors?”
Suddenly the voice was less than friendly, almost hostile. “Who are you and why exactly are you calling?”
Gary sighed. “It's hard to explain...but something bad is going to happen tomorrow. To the whole town. You've gotta get outta there.”
The young man hesitated again, his voice a bit more cautious than hostile this time. “Are you a psychic?”
Gary tried not to snort. “No.”
“Then how do you know about what's going down tomorrow?”
Gary felt as if he were drowning in confusion. “I don't, not really...like I said, it's hard to explain...and you wouldn't believe me if I told you.”
“Listen Mister, I was born and raised here, and let me tell you. The weirdest shit happens here everyday. So try me. Are you a psychic?”
“No...but...see it's like this. I get this newspaper a day early.”
“You get tomorrow's newspaper today?”
Gary sighed. “Yeah. I know it's hard to--”
“What's it say?”
“Huh? Oh, Town in Southern California wiped off the map. The entire town is gonna be a huge crater by noon tomorrow. It's not safe there. You've got to leave town. You and whoever is still there.”
“So...the world doesn't end?”
Gary nearly dropped the phone. What kind of question was that? “What?”
“You get a magical paper from the future that says Sunnydale is gonna be a crater. That means the world will still be here.”
There was that confusion again, not that it had ever left. “Yeah...I guess.”
The man on the other side took a breath and let it out slowly. “That means we win. We'll save the world...again. And no one will know how close it came to ending.”
Gary looked at the phone in his hand and stared at it for a moment. This had to be the strangest conversation he'd ever had. He put the phone back to his ear. “What are you talking about?”
“You believe in the weird right? Since you have your magic paper and all.”
“Then you need to know that a small group of people have been keeping this world safe for seven years. We were only sixteen the first time we saved the world. I can't explain everything. But you need to know that at least. And I know that we won't all make it out alive, this is gonna be the worst we've ever faced. But it's good to know that we win. It's a nice bit of silver lining.”
“How old are you kid?”
“Jesus.” Gary frowned when the kid laughed at him. “You got a name?”
“Xander. Xander Harris.”
“Thank you Xander, for everything you've done. Thank you for what you will do. Tell your friends the same.”
“Sure. So uh, what about you? You gotta name?” Xander asked, curiosity colored his voice. “Where are you calling from anyway?”
“Chicago, and it's Gary, Gary Hobson.”
“Well thanks for the good news...Hey after this next Apocalypse mind if I drop by Chicago for a while?”
Gary smiled. “Sure. I'll cook dinner for you in my restaurant, and you can tell me about all those times you saved the world.”
Xander laughed and the sound sent an unfamiliar thrill through him. “I'm more of a side kick in all that, but I'll tell you how I saved the school from a bomb...only to set explosives on Graduation day...the Mayor was evil and wanted to eat us. It was a whole big thing.”
Gary had to wonder at that. “I'll hold you to that. Good luck Xander.”
“Thanks. See you around Gary.”
Gary heard a click and the line disconnected. He stared at the phone for a while before glancing at the paper. The headline hadn't changed.
Xander hung up the phone.
“What was that about?” Giles asked.
Xander looked around the members of their motley crew who weren't screwing like it was 1999. “Evidently there's this guy in Chicago named Gary Hobson. He's been calling numbers all over the Dale, trying to get in touch with someone, anyone.”
Dawn frowned from the couch where she sat beside Anya. “Why?”
“He knows about tomorrow.” He sighed and Spike came up behind him and hugged him gently. “Gary gets tomorrow's paper today. The headline said Sunnydale will be a crater, the town will be gone.”
“Well that's just great. There goes my business.” Anya muttered.
“Anya, don't you get it? He get's a magical newspaper. A newspaper from the future.” He grinned. “We win. The world isn't going to end. And...Gary said thanks. Thanks for the last seven years, and for what we have to do next.” He let that sink in for a moment and let Spike lead him down to the basement.
“Won't all of us make it out pet.” Spike murmured as he started to strip Xander down.
“Let's make the most of it yeah?”
“You just want me naked.”
“Xan. Look at me.” Xander complied and looked at his lover in the gloom of the basement. “I'll take you and keep you any way I can have you love. Whatever you're willing to give. We don't have to shag, I can just hold you.”
“Whatever you want.”
“Sex and naked holding it is.”
Xander stared across the airport from where he stood at the payphone. He looked at the number Willow had given him on a scrap of paper. He had to make this quick, his plane left for Cairo in twenty minutes. So he dialed and waited for the phone to pick up. He got a recording.
“This is Gary, I'm not in right now. Leave your information and I'll get back to you.”
Xander took a breath. “So we lost a few. They were good people. Good friends, family. He...They deserved so much more. But the world is still here. And you're welcome.” He hung up and made his way toward the terminal without looking back.
Hours later Gary listened to the message, and the tears flowed and he left them unchecked.