The Gathering of the Threads Part One
Fandom(s): Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis, Supernatural, House, CSI: New York, CSI: Miami and others to be determined
Pairing/Characters: Too Many To List *evil cackle*
Rating: FRM to FRAO, Each Chapter Labeled as needed
Acknowledgments: Many thanks to the list sibs for ideas and confirmation on details.
Disclaimers: I own none of the characters or rights to any of the shows referenced. This is purely a fictional work. Buffy and company belong to Joss Whedon, SG1 and Atlantis belong to SciFi (Or however the hell they're spelling it currently *snorts*), House MD belongs to Fox, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York belong to CBS, Paramount, Supernatural belongs to Eric Kripke, etc.
Author's Notes: This is an unofficial NaNoWriMo entry of mine for 2010. The character of the 'Tinker' and the plot line with the Tinker is courtesy of the very evil Lady Fox Fire who shoved it at the writers *sighs* Along with the other list sibs who put out interesting add on ideas of which there are far too many to mention. Thank you all for such evil thoughts...may the bunnies swarm you all in return.
Author's Chapter Notes:
This is the start of things...who knows where it will end up at.
**Beta'ed by the kind and generous Zavada. Any remaining errors are solely mine.**
Staring at the gray fog that was swirling around him, Xander shivered involuntarily. He'd been walking towards the Magic Box, having grabbed a quick bite to eat at his apartment after work, and then suddenly he was here. Where ever the hell here was.
"Hello," Xander called out hesitantly as he picked a direction at random and began walking. "ello...lo...lo..." Echoed back at him, making him shiver ever so slightly in response.
"Is anyone there?"
"there... ere...ere..." Echoed back at him in mocking reply.
"A moment young Alexander," a voice called out from one side, even as the vast emptiness of the space seemed to contract in upon itself.
"It's Xander... and who or what are you," Xander called out hesitantly. "And where is this place?"
Xander stared in shock as the gray fog suddenly vanished as abruptly as it had appeared. All around him was the Sunnydale High School library as if the school had never been blown up. (Reworded for flow and multiple uses of same words)
Standing at the far end of the table, where they had spent far too many nights researching the latest problem, stood a tall man. The man clearly was older than Giles, if the gray hair and beard were anything to go by, but he was clearly solidly built and able to fight as well.
"My apologies for this rather unfortunate and abrupt meeting Alex...Xander," the Tinker said breaking off from calling Xander by his full name at the slight growl he let out. "As for where we are, this is a demi-plane. It's a place that's slightly out of phase with the reality and plane of existence you normally exist on."
"So why did you kidnap me here and what do you want?"
Shaking his head, the Tinker let out a soft laugh. "I didn't exactly kidnap you, but please sit down. I'll explain everything, and offer what proof I have."
Drawing a chair out, the Tinker sat down and opened up the briefcase that appeared from out of nowhere on the table.
"Please Xander, have a seat," the Tinker said after a minute had passed by in silence. "I can promise you that unlike any of the other demonic and other worldly beings you've run into, I don't mean you any harm. I've been rather hard pressed to keep from interfering before now."
Letting out a sigh at the pointed reminder of his own past dating history, and luck with the weird and wonky of Sunnydale, Xander reluctantly sat down and decided to wait things out rather then rushing in blindly like he usually did.
"Thank you," the Tinker said a hint of a smile showing in his voice. "Now, as to the first matter of why you are here, that is fairly simple, but I'll allow you to watch what happened."
Gesturing towards where the circulation desk sat at in the library, the Tinker caused a rectangular screen to appear in mid air, showing the interior of the Magic Box and his arrival.
"Can I help you spend your money?" Anya said cheerfully.
"I'm not here to buy anything, child but to trade," the old man replied.
"Trade?" Giles said as he adjusted his glasses.
The old man nodded his head. "Yes, I'm a Tinker."
Anya squealed as she bounced in place.
"A Tinker?" Dawn asked.
"He's a trading demon," Anya explained. "They trade things we don't need any more for things we most want or need."
"What's the catch?" Buffy asked as she eyes the demon with a mix of concern and interest.
"No catch," the Tinker replied. "You simply give me things you don't want or value and I give you what you feel you need."
"What type of things?" Willow asked.
The Tinker shrugs his shoulder. "I never know until I've made the trade."
"The Tinker's magic decides what you're trading and what you'll get," Anya explained. "And it's not like the magic I had when I was a Justice Demon. They're no draw back. It's always an even trade."
"And no one gets hurt?" Buffy asks.
"No one gets hurt," the Tinker promised. "Just take my hand..."
Buffy looked at the demon for a moment before taking his hand.
The demon released Buffy's hand and then reached into a messenger bag he had hanging from his shoulder. He pulled out a small bottle which he offers to Buffy.
"This potion will turn you true love from a vampire into a human with all the abilities of a vampire. He would be like a male Slayer," the Tinker explained.
"Angel," Buffy whispered as she grasps the bottle.
"Me next," Willow said excitedly as she stepped up and held out her hand to the Tinker
The Tinker grasps her hand. "Go to the back door," he ordered.
Willow looked at the Tinker before hurrying to the backdoor and opening it. "TARA!" she exclaimed.
"Good Lord," Giles exclaimed. "You can bring the dead back?"
"Only if they wish to return to living, “the Tinker replied.
"My turn," Anya said firmly.
After releasing Anya's hand the Tinker pulled out a scroll from the messenger bag and offered it to Anya. "While I cannot return your former job as Justice Demon over Scorned Women, I can offer you the job of Justice Demon over Lost Loves."
Anya squealed as she accepted the scroll.
"And you, sir, would you care to trade?" The Tinker asks as he held out his hand to Giles.
Giles adjust his glasses as he looked at his Slayer, Anya and Willow with the returned Tara before accepting the demon's hand.
The front door opened, "English are you here?" Jenny Calendar walked into the store.
"And last is you child," the Tinker said to Dawn
Dawn looked at the demon. "And no one gets hurt, right. This is a good thing," she asks.
"A very few regret their trade as time passes; but most are happy with what they receive," the Tinker answered as he held out his hand.
Dawn chewed on her bottom lip for a moment before accepting the demon's hand.
"Dawn, Buffy, What do you want for dinner tonight," Joyce Summer called out to her daughters.
"Mommy!" Dawn exclaimed as she ran to her mother.
Letting out a pained sigh, Xander slumped down in his chair. "So...now what?"
"Now there are far greater matters to be dealt with. You are a very unique individual Alexander," the Tinker said with a hint of exhaustion touching his voice. "A child conceived and born on the Hellmouth, and an exceptionally active Hellmouth at that. You've reached your majority and have survived far more than anyone could expect. You're also a very great wild card in the scheme of things. You've managed to disrupt any number of prophecies, to pull out impossible solutions to even more impossible situations. You've been far more than those around you know."
"Yeah, yeah, I'm all that," Xander said with a snort. "If I'm so important why did they trade me away, as I'm guessing that's why and how I'm here?"
The Tinker slowly nodded at that. "It is indeed. If certain things had not already happened, I'd have approached you more openly and directly, instead events have forced me to take a far less palatable course of action. So here we are. You, young man as I said are exceptionally unique. Someone like you is a paradox and an impossibility to predict when and where you might occur."
Xander just shrugged at that. "Nice build up, but can we just cut to the chase. Now that they've thrown me away, or traded me away, or whatever you want to call it, what do you want with me?"
"Tell me, have you ever heard of the lost city of Atlantis?"
Xander let out a small chuckle at that. "Yeah, big time myth. I've seen plenty of comics about it and I think Disney made a few movies about it. So?"
Shaking his head in amusement at the casual reply the Tinker smiled. "Except most myths and legends hold a kernel of truth to them. Have you ever seen that annoying show 'Wormhole Extreme'?"
Xander frowned as he considered the question for a few minutes. "I caught an episode or two here and there. Couldn't really get into it, as it was just too corny. Again... Why?"
"Atlantis is not nearly so lost as you would expect. Rather it's hidden far from most people's reach," the Tinker said slowly with a tiny bit of a smile playing about his lips. "And as for that annoying show, it's based in part upon true stories. Oh granted it's only very loosely based on the truth, but there are Stargates, or as the people who built them called them Astria Portia, out there."
Xander shivered at that, a feeling of mixed anticipation and dread filling his senses. "So what does that have to do with me?"
"That is a rather complex matter, the short answer is this. Those who had discovered the Stargates have been using them for a number of years now and they are preparing to try and journey to Atlantis, in search of knowledge, technology and other things besides. Unfortunately the Alteran's did not anticipate things nearly so well as they should have. When they sank Atlantis beneath the waves all those millennia ago, they expected that their descendants would either return far sooner, or would have the skills and knowledge needed to save and restore the city. When they go there, it will be a disaster if certain events are not altered before the fact."
"You're talking about time travel of some sort then, to keep things from happening one way. But how do I..." Xander asked slowly, before he trailed off reluctantly.
The Tinker just nodded at that. "Yes. I need you to act as my agent and alter the timeline in a few small, but key ways. Of all those who could possibly be chosen, you are the one who possesses all the needful qualities."
"And if I refuse?"
The Tinker offered a sad smile at that. "That is of course your choice. But should you refuse there are consequences. The first is that you will be dooming the vast majority of life in this galaxy to death, and the small remnant that will remain will suffer far greater than if the Hellmouth were to erupt and those you call demons were loosed freely upon an unprepared and unknowing world. And it will not be just this world that suffers, but worlds beyond count that will suffer as well."
Shuddering at that warning Xander shook his head slowly. "Why?"
The Tinker considered it in silence for a moment before answering. "Watch, and then I will explain what I am showing you."
Gesturing idly once again, the Tinker showed a number of different scenes over the next twenty minutes, using his power to force Xander to watch and not turn away from the scenes of absolute horror and carnage.
At last, he banished the images. "They are called the Wraith. What they are, in essence, are vampires. But unlike the vampires that you have dealt with these do not come from human stock...or at least they no longer do. They are vast beyond number, nearly invulnerable and they feed upon the very life force of a person. They are much like insects in how fast they breed and grow. They can hibernate for centuries or even millennia at a time. They are fully capable of surviving wounds that would kill most other beings and of healing at impossible rates with access to food."
Xander shuddered and pulled his legs up, hugging his arms around them. "They're beyond evil...and you want me to fight them? How could I make a difference...it's not like I'm a Slayer, or a Champion like Angel is...hell I'm not even a solider like Riley or Graham were."
"No, you're none of those things. Your strength lies in your willingness to do whatever it takes, to go that extra measure. You see solutions that lay outside of conventional wisdom and thought." The Tinker said with a gentle smile. "That and more is the strength that you possess. That and other skills that you will gain and master over time."
Xander just raised one eyebrow at that.
Chuckling the Tinker just shook his head slightly in amusement. "Do you truly think that it was pure luck that you survived your friends attack on you when she threw those multiple blasts of magic? Or that the taint from the 'mermaid' didn't leave its mark upon you as well? You my dear boy are far, far more than the sum of your parts. And it was not a 'mermaid' that your former swim coach had obtained and used. Though the reference is close, it's inaccurate."
Xander gulped at that, suddenly very uncertain. "Then what was it?"
The Tinker just shook his head at that. "It's not important. That particular race was a very ancient species, and sadly is no more. What your former swim coach obtained was a sample from a mutated off spring of them. Still it left its mark upon you in some very fundamental ways. It enhanced your longevity, and enhanced your mental capacities in ways that are impossible to say for certain. But that is not important at the moment."
"So if I do this..." Xander asked trailing off hesitantly, unable to believe he was even considering it seriously.
"Then you will be taught what you need to know. You will be aided in ways that are both subtle and profound, and in the end there will be a long time before you find someone to truly care for. The first and longest part of your journey will be exceptionally lonely and trying for you. I could lie to you easily, but it would gain me nothing and cost me much, as well as cost you much in the long run."
The Tinker simply shook his head at that. "Far beyond what you would care to honestly know. You will be sent back in time, so that you can ensure that the damage to Atlantis will be greatly minimized. You will spend much of that time in stasis, learning, exploring and expanding your knowledge with the help of the city herself. She has an AI that controls the systems and will interact with you, both while you are in stasis, and when you are out and about in the city. She'll aid you if you ask it, but even that has its limits."
"I guess I really don't have a choice then," Xander said softly, reluctance filling his voice. "If they don't see a real need for me, or even care about tossing me off to one side..."
"There will be a new family and friends for you in the future Xander, I can't say more than that, but it will happen in time. I can also promise you that while the one's you care so much about may have gotten their desire, that doesn't mean that all will go as they wish it to go. Things are rarely as straightforward or as simple, as such avarice would make it seem."
"Bobby," Sam said as he heard the older man pick up the phone at last. "Yeah, it's me...Sam."
Heaving a sigh, Bobby rolled his eyes. "I'm not that old or slow yet Sam. What do you need this time?"
Blowing out a breath, Sam bit back a smart remark. "I...I've run into something that I'm having a fairly hard time getting any reliable or solid information on. I was hoping that you might be able to see if you have any references."
"Uh huh, so something that's obscure enough that you can't find much," Bobby said reaching for a pen and notebook to jot down notes in. "Shoot, what do you have for a definite so far?"
"I think it's something like a Crossroads Demon, but here's the kicker Bobby, I wasn't at a crossroads, or doing anything to summon one up. The thing approached me from out of the blue and introduced itself to me directly. Said that it knew about the deal that Dean had made and about how I was trying to find a way to get him back. Offered to get him out of Hell; if I could meet its price. Said it was 'The Tinker'. Which is I'm assuming a name or a label for what it is."
"Huh, well that's an odd one, it's ringing a bell, but I can't place it off the top of my head," Bobby said as he jotted a few more notes down. "And I thought you had given up that stupidity of trying to get a Crossroads Demon to bring Dean back."
"I did...but like I said this thing popped up out of the blue and I can't find any reliable information on it, so I want to know what I'm dealing with before I say or do anything further," Sam said pain and grief tearing at his voice. "If there's even a small chance I can save Dean..."
"I know Sammy, I know," Bobby said sympathetically. "But don't be stupid about this. Give me a few days and I'll see what I can find out for you."
"Paul," Jack said as he answered the knock at the door of his apartment.
"Sir," Paul answered with a warm smile.
"Jack," Jack said. "We're both off the clock and this is as private as it can get here, so no need for formality."
"Thanks Si... Jack," Paul said as he stepped in and Jack closed the door behind him. "I... I wish I could say this is a surprise...but."
"I know Paul," Jack said with a sigh. "With all the insanity of the preparation and expectations for the Atlantis Expedition mounting..."
"Yeah, and with the IOA stepping into the middle of things and trying to run the show," Paul said with a small shudder.
"Exactly. With them stepping in, it just went from a damn three ring circus to a total FUBAR and then some," Jack said. "Beer?"
Frowning ever so slightly at the non sequitur, Paul considered for a moment. "Sure, so what did you need to talk to me about?"
"Give me a sec." Jack said as he headed out to the kitchen and grabbed two beers.
Returning with the two beers, Jack gestured at the couch. "Pull up a seat. Might as well be comfortable as it's a complicated discussion."
Raising an eyebrow in curiosity, Paul mentally swore as he slowly sat down. Taking the beer, he popped the top off and took a slow sip.
"Like I said, this is completely private and informal, and this entire conversation never happened, understood?"
Frowning ever so slightly Paul slowly nodded.
Taking a deep breath, Jack let it out and plunged on.
"Look, I know about you and Daniel, I'm not saying this to cause a problem," Jack said going on steadily in spite of Paul's shocked expression.
"Don't bother to deny it, no one's said anything or even hinted at it. But I know. Not like either of you are obvious and I personally don't care...well not that much at least."
"I... I... Sir...." Paul said stuttering in shock and horror at his secret coming out.
"Paul," Jack said calmly a hint of a smile playing about his lips. "It doesn't matter. I'm not asking, you're not telling. Besides which DADT is almost certainly going to be out shortly. Besides which, like Hammond before me, I understand that SGC requires a lot more of an open mind and view point. Besides, it's probably not going to be a real big deal for the folks who are going on the Atlantis mission."
Paul frowned at that. "But... I'm not on the list... and Daniel..."
Jack slowly shook his head at that. "The IOA overrode me on keeping him here. So yeah, he's ecstatic at the chance to explore Atlantis. That combined with the fact that I promised Mitchell his pick of assignments and Sheppard being assigned to it.... Look, I'm not asking you, but I am offering the opportunity. If you want to hit Atlantis and help keep an eye on the Space Monkey..."
"I... I... I don't know what to say Sir..." Paul managed to stammer out as a million thoughts and considerations rushed through his head.
Jack smiled at that. "I... well, I might also have a slightly ulterior motive beyond that as well. I'm sure you remember how the Asgard cloned me."
"Yes..." Paul said slowly drawing the word out.
"Well, the mini-me is also signed up for the expedition, though I've buried who he really is so damn deep it's all but impossible to confirm. Plus I called in a favor or two from Thor to assure that physically, he's going to look different enough from me, that it won't be obvious who he is. Except for that damn ATA Gene."
"Uh huh," Paul said as he considered the implications. "So you want me to keep an eye on him and Daniel both?"
Jack slowly nodded at that. "IF and only if you're willing. This isn't a request; this isn't me asking a favor. This is simply an opportunity that you can say yes or no to, as you wish."
"I can't say yes or no, right now. I'd love to say yes, as much as you'd love for me to accept it. But I can't charge into this blindly. Would it be horrible if I talked to Dan first and got his opinion on the idea?"
Jack considered the question for a minute and slowly nodded. "Not an issue, just don't discuss it over the phone. I don't want the idiot committee or someone else to put their foot down on it, or catch on to something."
Paul just laughed at that. "Trust me, by now Dan and I are more or less old pro's at being able to talk without saying anything at all...almost like you and he are like. Used to make me jealous at times, I have to admit."
Sighing Jack offered a rueful grin at that. "Yeah well, you work with someone in the field as much as the four of us did; you get to the point that you can almost anticipate their actions and thoughts. Of course there are still times that they surprise you."
Paul nodded at that. "Yeah, I know how that goes. I still swear that I had no idea where he was going with things, when he first asked me out to dinner that time..."
Jack snorted at that. "Uh huh, sometimes it's the blind leading the blind as well. Other times... well you don't always know what you might have had until it's already gone."
Slowly nodding at that, Paul silently considered a few odd facts while he idly sipped at his beer. After a few minutes had passed by in companionable silence he finally spoke up, hoping that he wasn't going to shoot himself in the ass so to speak. "Mind if I ask a personal question or two?"
Tensing up at that, Jack forced himself to relax and slowly nodded. "Sure, I can't promise to answer though."
Paul smiled at that and just nodded, as he considered how to phrase his first question. "It may just be my own impression, but I always got the feeling that there was something there between you and Daniel. Or am I completely off the target?"
Setting his beer down on the coffee table, Jack closed his eyes as he silently considered the question for a moment. "Yeah... yeah there was, but I never let myself acknowledge it, or act on it. I guess I was just too scared to take the chance."
Paul slowly nodded at that. "And I also have had the feeling a time or two in the past that you weren't sure about me, or if it was safe to even hint at something..."
Letting out a soft pained groan Jack slowly nodded at that.
"So one final question Jack," Paul said hesitantly. "Knowing that Dan and I have an understanding that when we're together we're faithful, but when we're apart, we're allowed to play, as long as it's safe. And knowing that I am... are you interested?"
Yep a very evil cliffhanger ending point. I have a great deal more that I'm working on and will probably be posting either today or tomorrow. I'll probably be updating every few days or so. I will note any pairings in each chapter after this. Keep in mind, just because a pairing happens, doesn't mean it's going to be a long term, true love forever pairing *grins*