Out of Africa
A/N This is the result of just having too much time on my hands at a dog show. This is predominantly a romance, but of course there will be other elements to the story. The characterizations and descriptions are based on the Narnia books rather than the movies. I have no proprietary claim on either BTVS or the Chronicles of Narnia. As always, constructive criticism is appreciated, however; pointless rants simple serve to fry my two active brain cells, something I really can't afford to have happen.
OUT OF AFRICA
It wouldn’t be fair to say that Xander liked Africa. Like is too simple a word and Africa is not a simple place. The emotions it stirred were vast and complex, like the continent itself; and refused to be contained or expressed in simple terms. It would be fair to say that Xander had come into his own while in Africa. Free from the influence of his family, friends and reminders of those who had told him he was worthless or inadequate; Xander had emerged from behind his self deprecating smile and found that he could be a leader. He had started in South Africa and worked his way north, finding slayers and sending them on to London to be trained; that was until he met Khani.
Met really isn’t the right word, it would be more accurate to say that he rescued her from hell on earth. He had discovered the girl in Somalia, near where the country borders on Ethiopia and Kenya; one of those thankless regions where men constantly fight over pointless lines on a map. She was tiny, and young for a slayer, and she was surrounded by five men who were taking turns fighting her. Whenever it was clear that she was getting the upper hand on one of them, another would take his place. It was clear that she was holding her own, but it was also just as clear that she was tiring and soon she would fall; and to Xander, that was simply unacceptable. While in Africa, Xander had learned the simple truth that not all monsters are demons. Up until now he had not acted on that revelation, but it was obvious that there was only one way that he and the girl were walking out of this alive and that was if the men surrounding her were dead. Drawing his Colt M1911, Xander put double taps in the heads of two of the men before the others even knew that someone else was there. They all reached for weapons but Xander gave a practical demonstration why you don’t bring knives to a gunfight. In the next three seconds, the other men were down; two dead and one dying. Seeing her tormentors down, the girl picked up a knife and was about to finish the last one off, but Xander stopped her. In his pidgin French, he told her that she was too good to soil her hands with the blood of animals like these. She looked at him, as though she could hear the words but not quite understand what he was saying; but she also stopped moving. Seeing this, Xander holstered his pistol and coming forward, pulled his K-Bar knife and buried it in the last man’s chest. He removed it, stood up and introduced himself to the girl. She informed him that her name was Khani and that she was thirteen or there abouts. Unfortunately, she couldn’t quite manage Xander, so now Xander was reduced to Xana; which was way too close to Xena for his taste. And another problem soon cropped up, Khani wouldn’t leave. Xander tried to explain that she was to go to London, to be with others like herself so that she could learn how to do what she was born to do; how to fight better and survive the life that had been thrust upon her. She had been angry to find out that he was indirectly responsible for what had happened, but not so angry that she would be without him. While he was on the phone with Giles, trying to figure out what to do with the girl, Xander was reminded of another piece of wisdom; the bigger the jerk, the more friends he has.
The two of them escaped the town and the horde of men howling for their blood, but it seemed like everywhere they went, there was some relative or blood brother to one of the men that Xander had killed all of whom seemed to become aware of the pair as soon as they walked into town. Xander was reduced to killing more people to keep himself and Khani alive, which just cascaded the ‘jerk effect’. Pretty soon it seemed like that the entirety of the male population of western Somalia was focused on capturing and/or killing a one eyed white man and the girl that traveled with him. It soon got to the point where Xander realized that they would have to get back into Kenya to get away from the constant harassment and attacks. That was easy enough for him, his Council passport gave him what amounted to diplomatic immunity and the ability to jump borders at a whim, but Khani was another matter. But with a little luck, and that universal passport, money; they were soon in Kenya and not looking over their shoulders constantly. All of this had brought the two closer together and now Xander realized that he couldn’t bear to send the girl off; unfortunately he couldn’t come up with a resolution. As long as she was with him, his travel would be limited and his mission wouldn’t be completed. This was when Giles demonstrated why he was the head of the Council.
“Just stay in Kenya.”
“What, but the rest of Africa. . . . .,” Xander started.
“Will eventually require a permanent presence, will it not.”
“Well sure, but . . .”
“And is Kenya sufficiently developed and centrally located so that it would be fairly simple to deploy a team anywhere on the continent.”
“Relatively, but . . . .”
“So Kenya would be an excellent location for the African headquarters?”
“Sure it would, but . . . .”
“I’ll have Andrew send you the location of an old Council contact in the country, she can help you with the logistics and smooth over any diplomatic troubles you might have.”
“Well thanks, but . . .”
“Excellent, Xander I want you to know how much I appreciate this. The headquarters here is getting rather crowded, and is getting more so now that we have more resources available to us. I’ll send a couple of other teams to Africa and they can direct any Slayers they find to you. Just let me know where you set things up so that I can pass that along.”
Finally realizing that he was caught, Xander just accepted what had happened; with the understanding that the next time he was in England, Giles would find something really horrible at the bottom of his tea cup. He sighed, “sure Giles, I’ll let you know,” and hung up. He turned to Khani, who was wearing the ultimate shit-eating grin; Xander had no doubt she’d heard and understood the whole thing. “Alright kid, it looks like it’s just you and me for now. Let’s go find this person and get things started.”
Xander’s contact turned out to be a woman, Lady Dalharn by name. Her husband had long been the British Ambassador to Kenya and had retired there after he’d left the diplomatic service. He had also been a member of the Council and being someone who didn’t believe in secrets between spouses, had told his wife all about the hidden world and the young girls that kept it in check. Xander and Khani had found Lady Dalharn’s home easily enough, it was located just outside Eldoret in the western part of the country. Lady Dalharn opened the door before they could even knock. She was a striking woman, Xander guessed that she was in her seventies; tall, with a regal bearing and her dark hair liberally streaked with grey. “You must be Alexander, and this is your charge,” she asked, looking at Khani.
“Yes ma’am,” Xander answered. “This is Khani.”
Silently, she stood back from the open door, inviting them in without actually saying so.
As they stepped into the front room, both Xander and Khani were struck dumb. Both were fascinated by the vast array of weaponry that decorated the walls. Lady Dalharn gave a bit of a chuckle when she saw their fascination. “My husband collected weapons from all over the world, most were sold after he died, but these were his favorites and I couldn’t bear to part with any of them. May I offer you some tea,” she asked, taking the pair’s attention away from the implements of death on the walls.
“Yeah, tea would be great,” Xander replied; pulling his attention away from some of the most beautiful weapons he’d ever seen.
“Excellent,” Lady Dalharn answered. “Then while we’re waiting for it, perhaps you could tell me everything that’s happened since the Council was destroyed and why you need my help.”
“OK,” Xander replied. “But I’ll warn you, it’s a pretty long story.”
“We’ve got time,” the Lady answered with a smile.
And with that, Xander launched into the battle with the First and all that had happened since then. “And since we had to get out of Somalia, Giles suggested I come here and start working on setting up a permanent presence here on the Continent.”
The hour had grown late, and the shadows were lengthening in the dooryard. Despite the length of time that had passed, Lady Dalharn had said nothing and had barely moved beyond occasionally sipping her tea. Finally, after a minute or two of silence, she leaned forward. “That is a most remarkable story young man, and you’ve given me much to think about. Supper is nearly ready, and afterwards you two can stay here for as long as you need to. As for myself, well I’ve got decisions to make.”
Dinner was probably the best thing Xander had eaten since he’d been in Africa. As for Khani, she had never been in a situation where she’d actually had enough to eat; it was a remarkable sensation for her. Dinner conversation was light, and didn’t touch on any serious subjects. After dinner, the Lady excused herself and the housekeeper showed Xander and Khani to their room. Much to Xander’s dismay, Khani insisted on him taking the bed, while she slept on the thick Persian rug, guarding him.
It took Xander a few minutes to realize why he felt so off the next morning. He realized that it was because he didn’t have to be up and moving before the crack of dawn and that he had nothing in particular to accomplish that day. In essence, both he and Khani had the day off, and neither really knew what to do with it. They took turns in the bathroom, luxuriating in the fact that there was hot water and plenty of it. Then they went and found breakfast. It was just them because Lady Dalharn was indisposed, or so they were told. After breakfast, they worked on some combat training, followed by a bit of sparring that left Xander bruised. Then it was lunch and time to check out the house’s library. It was as extensive as Xander would expect from an associate of the Council, with a peculiar emphasis on dimensional travel. There were also the usual tomes on different demon species, so Xander worked with Khani on identification and how to kill several of the more common species. It was almost time for tea when Lady Dalharn joined them in the library.
“After my husband’s passing, I was hoping for a quiet sunset to my life; but you knocked those plans off kilter Alexander Harris.”
“Sorry about that,” Xander replied.
“Don’t be, I would have been bored silly very soon. Now, you have asked me for help, and I will help you. I own a property near here, you could call it a plantation or ranch or what have you. Suffice it to say that there is a lot of room and several buildings. Now the buildings will need work before they’re habitable again, but that shouldn’t be too difficult for a man of your talents. There is a well for water and a generator for power and even room for an airstrip if you choose. There is also a small tribe of Mutawah Demons that live in the hills at the back of the property. They are peaceful and live there under my protection so if that is unacceptable you can pack it in right now.”
“No, that won’t be a problem.”
“Excellent, then we need to go and examine the buildings so that you know what is needed to make them livable, and then tomorrow we can start making arrangements.”
The work got going, and sooner than anyone had expected, the African Branch of the Council had a permanent base. The Mutawah’s were a bit nervous about all the slayer activity that would soon be in their back-yard, so to speak, but Xander possessed unexpected depths of diplomacy and soon had things smoothed to the point where the demons were working openly on the plantation. He had also spoken to several of the local Witch Doctors and other random Mages, so magical back up was available if needed. It was good that things moved as quickly as they had because soon girls were streaming in from everywhere, not just North Africa. All of the training areas in London, Rome and Cleveland were at capacity, so any new slayers discovered were sent to Xander.
Soon Slayer’s were trained and Watcher’s recruited and before long, satellite Branches were in Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria with more on the way. There were injuries and even losses but patrols went on and evil was dealt with. Before Xander knew it, a year had passed. He had no idea where it had gone until he looked around and saw how different things were from when they’d gotten started.
In addition to his accomplishments for the Council, Xander’s personal life was also taking a notable upturn. He’d actually had dates where he wasn’t attacked, kidnapped or used to summon some sort of demonic master. His relationship with his friends had also markedly improved. Willow and Kennedy had spent a week there gathering ideas for setting up the South American branch and while there Xander had had several long and intense talks with Willow about what had happened between them in Sunnydale. He also tried to convince Kennedy that he didn’t regret saving her, and that the loss of his eye was a price he’d been more than willing to pay. Dawn had spent a light-hearted week in Africa when she was between semesters; and Buffy had spent a month in Africa after her break-up with the Immortal. Like Willow’s visit, Buffy’s was marked by long and intense talks where a lot of issues that had festered for too long were finally dealt with. Fortunately his reconciliation with Buffy happened before he got the full story on what had happened between her and the Immortal from Dawn. If Xander had known earlier, then he would have been on the next plane to Rome put the pompous bastard’s nick-name to the test. As it was, he gave Dawn several suggestions concerning revenge and left things in her capable hands.
The only real question mark in Xander’s life was Lady Dalharn. She wanted something from Xander, he could tell, but he had no idea what it was. But the way that she acted around him made it clear that there were some ulterior motives at work, he just wished he knew what they were. Sometimes she would be out at Slayer House three or four times a week, then there were times where Xander would only see her once or twice in a month’s time. It was frustrating, Xander felt like he was just waiting for the other shoe to drop but considering the huge debt he and the Council owed her, Xander was willing to deal with it. In addition to all her generosity when it came to setting things up, Lady Dalharn had also given him his Axe.
She had brought it with her when the compound was finally completed and they were having an Opening Ceremony. She had been standing on the front porch talking about logistics when her butler had come up carrying what appeared to be a guitar case.
“Thank you Rogers, I’d almost forgotten,” she had said. Then the Lady turned to Xander, “I felt as though you should have this, it was the cream of my late husband’s collection, but it needs to be used for more than collecting dust; I thought you might like it.” Here she had opened the case and Xander felt as though he’d been gut punched, the axe inside was so beautiful that he couldn’t seem to draw breath. It was long, about three and a half feet from top to bottom. The head was Damascus steal, and was butterfly shaped, each of the two heads showed seven inches of very sharp cutting edge. The haft was made from Iron wood and the final touch was a six inch spear point that was attached to the top of the haft. Reverently Xander reached out and grasped the haft of the weapon. It felt good in his hand, no more than that, it felt right; as though it had been made for him and him alone. Wordlessly he looked at Lady Dalharn.
“It is a Phoenician design, which is all I know of it. My husband acted as though he’d found the holy grail when he discovered it and fortunately the seller was kind hearted because I do believe that my husband would have mortgaged and sold all that we owned to have it.”
“Thank you Lady Dalharn,” Xander said; fighting the urge to drop to one knee in front of the old woman. “I’ll use it well.”
“I’m certain that you will, Alexander,” she had replied with a ghost of a smile.
And he did, use it well that is. Xander practiced at least an hour a day with it, learning all of its strengths and weaknesses. When he finally used it in battle, helping to settle a small demonic uprising in Ethiopia; he surprised the Slayers, Watchers and himself, with the destructive power that he unleashed on the demons. It was as though he was the center of a whirlwind of body parts and blood when he wielded his Axe. Xander never failed to thank Lady Dalharn for it when he saw her.
Soon after the one year anniversary, everyone was on the move. Word had come through the Mutawah’s that a Mage in the mountains of Eastern Uganda had turned to dark and bloody methods for getting what he wanted and would soon threaten the stability of the entire region. Knowing that it was best to catch these kinds of things early, Xander had set out with the best of the house to stop the would-be Overlord. When they finally arrived at his cave lair, ‘why do they always choose caves,’ Xander wondered; Xander directed the girls to take out the demonic guards while he went for the seat of the problem. His reason for this was simple, the Mage was a human, and even though the idiot was patently evil, he wanted to spare the Slayers the necessity of killing humans whenever he could. So the girls opened a hole and Xander charged through, casually lopping off arms and legs as he ran past the demonic combatants. Sure enough, there was the head evil guy, in his cliché black robes with a hood; standing over a green flame while yelling some sort of incantation. Figuring that the incantation was not some sort of elaborate surrender, Xander dove at the man, his axe held in front of him like a spear. It tore through the man’s chest and drove him, with Xander along for the ride; up against the back wall of the cave. But instead of hitting rock, the pair of them sailed right through with nothing more than a whisper of air and a bit of tingling to mark their passage. As soon as they hit the ground, Xander assessed the situation. The mage was dead, that was most important; and they were in a cave. The problem was that they seemed to be alone, and the entrance to the cave was in the wrong direction, not to mention that there was daylight outside when they’d been fighting at night. After testing the back wall of the cave and finding it disturbingly solid, Xander did the unthinkable as he channeled Giles and muttered, “Oh bugger”.
After assuring himself for the hundredth time that there was no way to get back to where he’d come from, Xander decided to find out where he was. He stepped out of the cave and found that he was about 100 yards from a large body of water with no other shores visible. It appeared to be a rather desolate place, covered in grass, there were no visible trees and sparsely populated. Not recognizing where he might be, Xander went about inventorying what he had and trying to figure out how best to survive until someone came to get him or he figured out how to get back on his own.
Xander wasn’t nearly as bad off as he had originally believed. Oh, he was still stuck in a different universe (he knew this because the stars were completely different), and though he had to admit it was quite Earth like he still had no obvious way of getting home, but he no longer had to worry about his immediate survival. As he had examined the body of the dead mage, he realized that like so many would be evil lords, the guy had draped himself with gold. This gold, once melted down, would be a perfectly adequate means of exchange so that he could buy whatever he needed; assuming the locals actually knew what gold was, which he fervently hoped that they did. The next day, once he’d obtained a few slivers and nuggets, Xander decided that it was time to scout out the land and figure out where in the heck he was.
It turned out that he was on an island named Fellimath. It wasn’t that large, maybe six miles at its widest point and about fifteen long and mostly like what he’d already seen, grass but few trees. There were no cities or even towns, just a few scattered villages. The level of technology seemed to be about the medieval period, there was no sign of gunpowder or modern weapons. The main way of life seemed to be raising sheep and fishing. The sheep were given the run of the island since there were no natural predators present. After finding his way to the nearest village, Xander was pleased to discover that they could understand him, and he them; so different universe aside, everyone seemed to speak English. He told the tale as if he had washed up from a wrecked ship and was just looking to settle down. Everyone seemed to accept this easily enough and he was able to make arrangements for the supplies he would need to survive. He also discovered that in addition to the name of the island he was now living on, that it was part of a group called the Lone Islands and were off the coast of a country called Calormen. It was this that finally convinced Xander that he was well and truly off of the Earth that he knew, because no matter how poor he’d been in Geography, he figured he would have remembered a country called Calormen. The Lone Islands were supposedly ruled by a country called Narnia, but since word hadn’t been received from Narnia in over a decade, a boisterous independence seemed to be the rule now. Xander figured it was a lot like the Old West in American history. So Xander bought his supplies and a boat, because he would rather fish than mess around with a bunch of sheep; and built a small cabin in front of the cave he’d arrived from and lived. He really did enjoy the quiet, and on Fellimath he got all of that and some. About once a week he’d head to the nearest village for the news and a dinner that he hadn’t cooked himself, but mostly it was a quiet and lonely existence. He told himself that he didn’t want to move because something might come for him through the cave, but the truth was that he just felt that this was where he was supposed to be right now. So Xander spent his days fishing and improving his cabin and his nights looking at the stars and planning on what to do when he got back. Meanwhile, he found himself staring at the horizon for minutes at a time, several times a day; as though he were searching for a sign of some kind. But he had no idea what it was.