The Tapestry Burns Part 3: Flames and Endings
See any of the first 3 chapters for a full disclaimer. If you spot any grammatical errors feel free to tell me so that I can fix them.Chapter 5: The Tapestry Burns: Flames and EndingsA few minutes before the Dome appeared, Scrapyard
It had been a few days since Xanders (teen) encounter with the Hound and as much as he hated to admit it Hound had been right. He had taken a look, a good long look at the self-proclaimed gang and he didn’t like what he saw. Giles had the knowledge but he lacked the command presence that made him famous in his Ripper days, and his love for Buffy made him reluctant to refuse or gainsay her. And while there was a chance of bringing out some of his Ripper-like qualities, Giles loyalties were too divided between the fight, the council, the Scooby’s themselves and Buffy in particular.
Buffy herself was one giant emotional contradiction. She had railed about the difference between Angel and Angelus during the soul incident and yet she had continued to refer to Angelus as Angel all the while. She had spoken, ranted really, about the unfairness of her being the slayer and then turned around and used her being the slayer as a reason for others to do as she wanted. It seemed as if she couldn’t find a balance between the teenage girl and the slayer. All in all she was too naïve and bullheaded to lead.
And his Willow, if he was being truthful he was almost scared of her. Ever since re-ensouling Angel she had been digging deeper into the magic’s, and that combined with her deep down desire/need to prove her worth to others and to herself could not lead to anything good. What had really brought it home was yesterday when the gang was finishing up with a meeting, he had noticed her slipping one of Giles’s magic books into her bag. Couple that with her constant siding with Buffy (her first female friend) and her want to please her, i.e. sheep-like behavior, and you could see why he felt the way he did.
The others each had a flaw (or two) as well. Oz for all his calm, insight and above average senses was quick to side with his girlfriend; he was also more of a threat 3 nights of the month. Cordelia, his own girlfriend, was only there because it was –ironically- her best chance to survive the vampires and demons that kept popping up. The new Watcher, Diana, he could tell was relatively new to field work or at least being in command. She would gain the required experience of course, given time, he just wasn’t sure if they would survive to see that day the way they were going.
That brought him to last of their group Faith, the second slayer. She came across as brash, bold and a bit of a flirt, but he was adept at reading masks…..he had worn one for most of his life. Whereas his mask was one of goofiness and immaturity, she had gone the opposite direction and worn one of false adulthood and sensuality, but every now and then it would slip and he would catch a glimpse of the girl within. Being a slayer as well Faith had a great amount of respect for Buffy and the things she had accomplished, thankfully it had been tempered by learning about some of less impressive and/or downright stupid things she had done.
The thing he found that he hated most of all though was what he saw when he had looked at himself. Here was someone who for all he had and the dedication that he claimed never really gave anything his all. No he didn’t come from the best home life, or a family with a lot of money but that wasn’t an excuse for his laziness. In school he had never really tried, and while he might not be on Willows or even Cordys level of intellect he was far more gifted than he pretended; he had after all matched wits, and on occasion studied, with two of the smartest students in the school from kindergarten up till now. He’d also failed to make use of the remnants of things that had been forced on him, namely the memories of the soldier and weakened echo of the hyena.
That was the reason he was here at the scrapyard in the middle of a school day instead of in class, he was going to use these to help in the slaying. Already Xander had found that with some meditation and concentration, mostly done in his room after patrolling with the gang, he was starting to recall some of the soldier’s combative (or CQC/Close Quarters Combat) training and while it wouldn’t miraculously make him unbeatable it would give him an edge. Speaking of an edge he had found that with a lot of effort and focus he could tap into the hyena echo, thankfully without being overwhelmed, and use it to enhance his speed and strength. He was careful when doing this though, he didn’t know the full extent of the echo’s power and didn’t want to find out that the echo had been waiting for the perfect chance to take over, and find that he had become too reliant on it to stop it. His ultimate goal was to find a way to combine the two to become a force to be reckoned with, that was why he was here practicing his CQC.
However that was not to last, as Xander repeated the motions of an elbow strike the pain struck. It felt much like how he had felt when Hound gripped him mixed with the overpowering fear and pressure he had felt during their first meeting, except this was a thousand times a thousand times worse. It felt like his body was simultaneously trying to cook itself from the inside out and rip itself apart at the seams, half out of his mind with agony Xander found a part of himself that instead of being destroyed by the power flowing through him was pulsating with it. A need to escape from the hurt, and to survive, Xander latched onto that part…..and at the moment the already murky destiny of the Xander Harris native to this reality became even hazier.
For 45 minutes, not that he knew how long it was, Xander screamed and writhed on the floor, power washing over and through him as his own newly (at least to his knowledge) awakened power caused flames to entirely cover the ground five feet in every direction from him. When it was over Xander lay on his back in a large circle of charred earth and molten metal, a few flames still licking at the ground, taking quick shallow breaths that revealed newly lengthen canines – still within human norms. Freshly strengthened muscles twitching at random as the toughened bones in his grasping hands protested their movement and reinforced fingernails reflected the light of the dying embers.
An hour when Xander had finally awoken he opened his eyes revealing that unlike their overall brown, the edges of his iris’ were now green.
Mayor Wilkins felt the wards around City Hall shudder for a moment and then buckle. Not an easy thing to do, even if they were the weaker of his wards they were a great deal more powerful than what your average mage would be able to create. Moments later a booming bellow of “SORCEROR!!!” shook the building and the screaming reached his ears. Electing to be cautious, even though he was already in his hundred days of invulnerability, he gathered some of his power sat back and prepared to meet his ‘visitor’.
As Xander (Hound) entered the building he felt wards trying to halt his progress, a trivial effort of will and power later they were no more. He didn’t pay any mind to the security or the secretary at the front desk as he walked into the lobby. “Excuse me sir, do you have an appointment,” he wasn’t here for them; he was here to deal with an uppity little warlock. “…….you can’t go back there without an appointment…..security!!”
Xander was taken by surprise when one of the guards actually pulled a gun, when the guard shot at him he got angry. Not that the bullet ever made contact with him, it was devoured in the heat of the flames that still danced across his body, but an attack was an attack and had to be answered. As he went to retaliate, the more demonic guards entered the scene and he changed his mind, he didn’t have time to play with any lackeys, so he called to his flame and told it to devour. Flames as black as a moonless night, rushed from the bottom of his cloak and flowed out, engulfing and consuming everything in its path in its quest to fulfill it master’s wishes. Then the screaming began. Human, demon, living or dead it didn’t matter if it was inside the building the flames incinerated it, climbing up walls and stairwells, surging down elevator shafts and secret passageways until the interior of the Sunnydale City Hall structure was covered in flame.
All except for one room, the office of the honorable Mayor Richard Wilkins III, there the flames stopped and turned back as if they were leaving this room and its inhabitant for their master. Announcing his presence Hound screamed “SORCEROR!!” as he walked through the flames, which parted in his presence.
As the doors to his office were smashed in and off their hinges Mayor Wilkins readjusted his folded hands on top of his desk, put a smile on his face and greeted the man, he assumed was Hound, who had just so dramatically entered his office. “Well hello there. I was wondering when we would meet in person, mint?” he said pointing to a bowl of the aforementioned sweets on his desk.
When his ‘guest’ surged forward he was ready for him and unleashed bolt of lightning, which knock Hound head over heels through the air and slammed him into the far wall. Standing Wilkins rounded his desk and ambled to Hound as he tried to rise, throwing bolt after bolt of lightning as he spoke. “That was very rude, here I am trying to be civil and you throw it back in my face. The younger generation these days, no manners at all. We’ll just have to correct that.” the pleasant guise on his face never wavering.
Throwing another bolt, he was surprised when it was met by a hand covered in Hellfire and a low feral growl.
Hound berated himself as the bolts struck him again and again. He had been stupid; letting his rage control him had made him act without thinking, and allowed Wilkins to get the better of him. With a growl at his own stupidity he intercepted the incoming bolt with his hand and a subtler use of his flames. Regaining his feet he glared at the surprised visage of the mayor. The surprise was quickly replaced by his ever present grin “Aren’t you full of surprises.”
“If you liked that then you’ll love my next trick.” Xander declared as shadow tendrils erupted from his cloak and streaked towards the mayor. With a wave of his hands a barrier appeared between the mage and the tendrils, causing them to ricochet off it……only to change course and attack again as he dropped his shield, forcing him to hurriedly put it back up. Upping the ante Xander combined the tendrils into one large tendril and rammed it through the mayor’s shield and the mayor. Imagine his shock when the mayor merely pulled himself off the tendril and looked down at his own chest as the hole rapidly healed.
“That hurt, and you ruined a perfectly good suit.” Wilkins said as he lifted the jacket away from his chest, showcasing his ruined clothing. “Now, I hope you’ve seen the futility of trying to kill me. I could use someone….” Wilkin’s comment was cut off as Xander wrapped his hand around his throat and squeezed.
Leaning in close to Wilkins face Xander growled out “Immortal or Invulnerable it doesn’t matter, I…will….kill…..you.” menace and assurance of his pledge filling his eyes. As Richard Wilkins looked into those crimson eyes he felt a feeling creeping up his spine, one that he hadn’t felt since that first deal for his soul, for the first time in 100 years he felt fear….and he didn’t like it.
With a surge of pure magic he threw Hound off of him, through the air and through the wall where he was swallowed by flames. For a moment it appeared as if Hound had perished in his own flames and the fight was over, then the laughter started. It started off much like someone trying to keep their laughter to themselves and failing, quickly rising to resemble that of someone who should be retrained by a strait jacket and thrown in a padded cell. The laughter slowly receded as Hound emerged from the flames, a deaths head grin on his face and an unholy gleam in his eyes.
“You know, I wasn’t sure how to kill you, I was just going to rip you apart and slow roast you until I did. But that little temper tantrum of yours gave me and idea.” Coming to a stop just in front of the wall he had recently gone through he took in the confused look in Wilkins eyes. “Don’t worry, I’m still gonna rip you apart….it’s just gonna hurt a hell of a lot worse.” Closing the distance between them Xander plunged his hands into Mayor Wilkins chest, finding what he was searching for he pulled.
When Wilkins had blasted him through the wall he had felt it, the influence of something else, many something else’s present in his magic. It had taken him a moment to put it all together, what he had felt were the bonds signifying each of Wilkins demonic deals, deals that strengthened and empowered Wilkins. Sending his metaphysical senses coursing through the mage he had quickly found one of the bonds, grabbing ahold he pulled at it, using his power to burn through the link holding the bond to Wilkins. As he drew his hand and the demonic power that had resided in the mage he saw understanding and terror flash through Wilkins eyes as the mayor started to struggle and throw his own power against what Hound was doing. Releasing the energy he had torn from the mage, he plunged his hand back into Wilkins chest and searched for another bond, pitting his power against Wilkins own all the while.
Seven blocks from City Hall
Buffy and Willow walked towards City Hall and the powers she had sensed raging there, on the lookout for someone seeing them skipping class. It had started earlier in the day during one of their free periods. They had been in the library when Willow had fallen out of her chair holding her head and groaning in pain, a few minutes later the pain had passed and Willow had shaken off her concern, claiming it a really bad headache. Later during class, Buffy had felt something brushing up against her slay-dar but couldn’t figure out what it was. When she had tried to get Willows attention she saw the other girl once more cradling her head, only this time blood was trickling out of her right nostril.
Buffy had gotten Willow out of class by saying she was taking her to the nurse. Once they had gotten far enough away from the class and she was sure no one would overhear, she had demanded that Willow tell her what was going on and wouldn’t take ‘headache’ for an excuse. Willow had finally given in and told her about the power she had felt at first and then the two clashing ones she had felt moments ago, when she had said that one reminded her of how Hound had felt Buffy’s mind was made up. A not too small amount of persuasion and cajoling had resulted in Buffy and Willow sneaking out of school, with Willow leading the way to where she had thought the she felt the two warring powers. Neither girl had noticed Faith as she too left the school, glad to have a reason to ditch school, heading in the same direction as them.
On the way Buffy had been deep in thought, if whatever Hound was fighting was powerful enough it could seriously injure or even kill him. Not that she wanted that, no she wanted to kill him herself –the way she had been pushing herself during training was proof of that- but if it happened, so be it. Nevertheless if Hound was injured and survived, she was going to do her best to remedy that. Willow’s gasp had broken her out her musing and for an instant she didn’t understand why the redhead had gasped, then she saw where they were heading. They were walking towards City Hall, the place where the current big bad, the immortal (and currently invulnerable) Mayor Richard Wilkins, was residing.
The most dangerous and powerful threat the Scooby gang had ever faced and the target of her own personal vendetta were apparently in the same place and maybe even trying to kill each other. A smile graced her face as it dawned on her they were probably trying to kill each other, it turned slightly feral when she remembered that the mayor was invulnerable and would most likely kill Hound. They did after all have a plan to deal with the mayor come graduation day, but she had hit a dead end trying to find a way to kill Hound.
Turning to share her thought with her best friend she saw that Willow was paler than usual, but before she could find out what was wrong they were blown off their feet. City Hall, under the stress of the building demonic magic’s and otherworldly power, had detonated in a blast of flame, power, force and light. The initial explosion had erased City Hall, wiped out everything for almost three whole blocks and created a growing network of cracks in the street. The resulting shockwave damaged buildings, shattered glass, threw people, trees and cars through the air and caused the cracks in the street to rip open, swallowing sections of the street and sidewalk for five blocks.
After Buffy and Willow had recovered they had waited, waited as police cordoned of the area, waited as firefighters battled fires that had been started by the explosion and waited as EMT’s helped those that they could. Through all that waiting what they had expected never happened, no one had emerged from the wreckage. Buffy and Willow celebrated as they realized their biggest problems had been wiped away in one fell swoop. Neither noticed as a slightly worse for wear Faith stood near an overturned SUV, stoic faced as she tried to hold back the tears that slid down her face.
Four days later, abandoned house
He had barely survived, pitting himself against the mayor, his power and the demonic energy that hung in the room had nearly destroyed him. Luckily he was one stubborn son of a bitch; he had put all he had into one last push against the mayor’s own power and the power that had made him invulnerable. The resulting clash of power had reacted with the still lingering demonic energy he had already extracted from the mayor and caused an explosion. The blast had vaporized the mayor, seriously injured him and destroyed his pants but not miraculously his cloak.
Beaten and battered, but not broken he had dragged himself through the barely and in some cases not standing tunnels. He had passed out twice along the way, but he had made it back to the empty house he had been staying in. Once there Xander had somehow found the strength to drag his abused body down into the basement and barricade it before it finally gave in to its injuries.
He had awoken two days later, healed and a little sore. A search of the house had produced a black pair of jeans, that while a little snug would fit. He had spent the next day gathering up the things he had been preparing to use after he left Sunnydale, his falsified documents, seven thousand in cash from assorted vampires and demons, a black duffel bag containing various gold and silver items (some magical, some not), a pair of black steel-toed boots and a dark grey, silver and black Harley Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy registered to one Alexander Hound.
As he now stood in front of his bike, he wondered how he was going to hide his cloak. He needn’t have, because as he thought what to do the tattered old cloak retracted into itself, warped and slid over his upper torso until he was wearing a dark black leather jacket that looked like it had survived a few crashes. Wonder and surprise in his voice as he spoke “Bedrin always said you were more than you appeared.”
Revving the Fat Boy’s engine Xander took off on the road out of Sunnydale, throwing a fireball at the ‘Welcome to Sunnydale’ sign. Rumors were already spreading among the demon community of his ‘death’ and he had a lot of demons to dissuade of that notion, Sunnydale could take care of itself.
[Cue ‘Indestructible’ by Disturbed] End
After this chapter I’m probably gonna swing back between Xander/Hound and the Sunnydale gang so it doesn’t get too monotonous and so you can keep track of how things in the Dale change.
I will reveal the story behind Elia (though you can probably already guess) and Bedrin sometime later in the story.