Sunnydale: Discussions, Lightning and Flame
See any of the first 3 chapters for a full disclaimer. All you need to know is that none of its mine.Sunnydale: Discussions, Lightning and FlameSunnydale High School Library, three weeks after Hound fought the MayorXanders POV
“So we are in agreement then, Buffy, Willow and Oz will start from Nylund Cemetery on the East end of town and work their way around the others until she circles back to here. While Faith and Xander will be doing the same except the two of them will start at Erikson Cemetery on the West side.” Giles stated as he resettled his glasses on his nose “any questions?”
This was it; he had noticed something recently that they should have already talked about, something that could, and would, bite them in their collective asses when they least expected it. So now he was going to shine some light on it and start showing them, and to himself, that he was more than comic relief. After all if he intended to eventually lead them, they had to respect him or it would be doomed to fail. Steeling himself Xander took a deep breath and spoke up.
“Yeah, what are we going to do about the situation?” he was met by questioning glances, so he decided to elaborate before anyone could interrupt, and kill his confidence. “You know, now that Hound and Wilkins are dead.”
“What do you mean? They’re dead, we partied, situation resolved.” Buffy said with ease.
This was closely followed by Willows agreeing “Yeah.” and a nod of Oz’s head. Faith and Diana were notably silent. Giles however seemed at least willing to hear what he had to say.
“Xander, what problem does the deaths of Mayor Wilkins and Hound cause?”
“It’s just that every time we put down a big bad there’s another, more dangerous one ready to stir up some trouble. But this time we didn’t just lose a big bad. Wilkins was the head honcho Numero Uno, he basically controlled Sunnydale, and now that he’s dead there’s a power vacuum.” As he spoke Xanders voice gained confidence, his eyes switching from one person to another. “And Hound, he wasn’t here long but he had a big reputation. There were a lot of demons trying to stay under his radar and stay alive, and now they don’t have to.”
“Bloody Fucking Hell!!!” The eyes of the entire group were turned on Giles at his outburst. “How did I miss this?” as he spoke he started polishing his glasses.
Being the only other adult in the room Diana spoke up. “Rupert, what did you miss?”
The agitated form of Rupert Giles started pacing, alternating between polishing the lenses of his glasses and running his hand through his hair as he tried to organize and convey his thoughts. “Xanders right, but it goes far beyond what he said. The Mayor held this town under his control for almost a hundred years and now that he’s dead there’s a void, and sooner or later some demon or vampire will get it in their heads to take over. And the growing factions will eventually clash.”
Faith interrupted, “So some vamps and demons off each other, what’s so bad about that?” inquiry in her voice.
“Vampires, most demons and master vampires use them as foot soldiers, cannon fodder. Unless the fight ends in total and complete victory for one side, then…”
“The streets will run red with blood.” Diana’s wavering voice broke in as understanding dawned on her face.
Seeing the confusion the faces of the teens present, except Oz –who maintained his ever present calm- and Xander –whose face was filled with dread-, Giles elaborated. “As they kill each other they’ll need to replenish their numbers, so each side will turn more and more vampires. And when they aren’t fighting, those vampires will need to feed. In short the death count will be steep.”
“On top of that, there are those demons that stayed away because of their fear of the mayor. Once they find out about his demise they will in time come here, either adding to the power struggle, attempt to open the Hellmouth or for other nefarious reasons. And then there’s the death of Hound.”
“W-why’s that bad I mean maybe some more demons come out into the open but they’re going to do that anyways right?” Willow questioned/babbled.
“Reputation.” said Xander as sat hunched over the table, his hands grasped together in front of his face. “Hound has a reputation as one scary son of a bitch.”
“Not the way I would have phrased it, but the sentiment holds true. Hounds reputation was, and still is, quite dangerous. First day on the Hellmouth and he starts a fight in a demon bar, kills all his opponents and issues a challenge to the supernatural community at large.” Giles picked up the explanation “Then he goes on to wreak havoc on the vampires and demons of this town, with virtual impunity. There are most likely demons out there that would want to challenge him as a point of pride and until they learn of his demise, maybe even after still, they will be coming here. Then there are the demons that went to ground when Hound came to town, they will undoubtedly be coming out of hiding upon news of his death.”
“Demon-apalooza.” Oz said in his normally cool voice.
“U-u-um I need to…to try and get a handle on this, maybe get some reinforcements. You children go on patrol but head home once you’re done. And please be extra careful, we don’t know if any of these scenarios are already in play.” Giles said as he headed into his office.
After Giles disappeared into his office the gathered people looked at each other before Diana spoke up. “You guys go on; I’ll stay here and look after him.” The teens nodded and left the library. Giving a last look at the door they had just exited she turned and walking into Giles office to see if she could offer him any help.
As Faith and Xander walked through the graveyard she would take a momentary glance at him every now and again. He had been changing recently but that wasn’t the whole reason she felt compelled to look at him, it was because of his resemblance to Hound that apparently only she noticed. She still remembered the first time she had noticed the similarities.Flashback
She had been walking for almost an hour, nowhere in particular; she just needed time to get her thoughts and herself in order. Hound was dead; she had not long ago watched as the building she had felt him in was completely destroyed, along with a large portion of the area around it. She hadn’t known him long or well, but she could tell that he had seen the darker side of the world that she had. But now he was dead and she would never get to talk to him about it.
A groan of pain caught her attention, pulling her from her gloomy state. Once more on her guard and looking around she spots a figure leaning heavily on the side of a building and hope soars in her chest. The man is tall, well-muscled (as can be noted by the muscles visible at the large rips and burns in his shirt) and his long hair falls in his face. He lifts his head, causing his hair to shift revealing his face and for a few moments he’s alive again and she’s happy, then reality sets in. It’s not Hound, she’d looked at Hound enough to know him on sight alone, even covered by his cloak, and this wasn’t him.
While the guy did resemble Hound his hair was a dark brown, not the pitch black of Hounds and it was too short. His torso, what she could see of it, wasn’t scarred and he was wearing a shirt (something she’d never seen Hound do). What really gave it away though was his face… it was too young, and his eyes were a chocolate brown, not the cold crimson she had seen so many times in her dreams. “Uhg, *groan* Faith?”
Recognizing Xanders voice she rushed to him and slung one of his arms over her shoulder, to help him stay standing. “What the hell happened to you X?” He winced as she readjusted her grip on his waist.
“Oh just the usual,” Xander said through gritted teeth “ditched school, got knocked unconscious and woke up in agonizing pain.” He gave what he hoped was an easy smile, which came out as more of a grimace “just another day in the life of an intrepid demon hunter.”End Flashback
Since then she had noticed small changes in him, while he still told jokes, there were a lot less, he paid more attention in meetings and at times the air around him seemed to be charged with an aura of danger and violence. The moments never lasted long but she had become good at catching them, like right now. Xander was acting like he wasn’t worried but she could see his eyes taking in his surroundings and his head swivel in the directions of different sounds, it reminded her of some of the predators she had seen on those nature shows….or herself.
Her musings were cut short by the sounds of an argument and a brief struggle. Dropping into a crouch she crept towards the sound, Xander following close behind. Pushing some shrubbery out of the way she saw a woman lying on the ground staring up a large demon with a sword on its back.
“You’re little magic’s won’t work on me human, now prepare to die at Lagos’ blade.” The demon, Lagos apparently, growled out in a low voice as he pulled the sword from his back. Leaping forward to protect the woman Faith landed on top of Lagos dropping him to the floor, trapping his arm and sword behind his back half in the scabbard. “Uh-uh big boy, that’s no way to treat a lady.” She said smirking down at the surprised demon. Lagos surprise was quickly dispelled as he somehow gained enough leverage to toss Faith off of him and rose to his feet.
“Slayer.” He slowly snarled as Faith used her flexibility to flip in mid-air and land on her feet. Reaching behind her back she pulled out a knife and gestured at the demon.
“Let’s dance, I’ll lead.” and with that she charged at Lagos and the fight was on. As Faith and Lagos attempted to cut the other like a couple of deranged butchers, Xander snuck over the woman to see if she was ok. A few feet from her he saw her struggling to regain her footing and gave a sigh of relief. Bending down he grabbed one of her arms and threw it over his shoulder as he helped her to stand up.
“Let go of me, unhand me this instant.” The woman demanded in a decidedly British accent, struggling to free herself.
“It’s ok, we’re here to help, you’re gonna be fine.” Xander said as he tried to calm the struggling woman down. “Great, a female Giles.” he grumbled low under his breath.
“You know Giles?” apparently not low enough “I’m here on a mission from the council, trying to retrieve an evil artifact before that demon.” She nodded towards where Faith had just dropped kicked Lagos to the ground.
While Xander had no great love for the council, between them and a demon he’d side with them. “Ok then, while Faith holds him off, we’ll go get you’re evil ancient thingy.” Xander said as he watched Faith barely duck a swing of Lagos sword. “Now where….”
“No!!” a look of panic crossed her face, which Xander missed as he followed the slayers fight. “There’s…..a spell on the item…..and it takes time to break it, so I need you to stay here and help hold off that demon.” A quick nod from Xander who promptly ran towards the combatants, drawing a combat knife from the back loop of his jeans, and a look of smug satisfaction crossed the woman’s face before she headed towards an old mausoleum.
Several minutes later
Faith grunted as she parried a strike from the demon swordsman and quickly back-stepped as Xander sliced at its shoulder, drawing a thin line of blood. When the demon started raining blow after blow at Xander (who was dodging by the skin of his teeth when he could and blocking with his knife when he couldn’t), Faith kicked at the back of its knee drawing its attention back to her. This had been going on for a couple of minutes now, the demon would try to kill one of them and the other would strike when its attention was elsewhere. However this was a stopgap at best because Lagos seemed able to brush off smaller degrees of pain and his wounds were slowly healing as they fought.
“Stand still and FIGHT you cowards!!!” Lagos bellowed as he shook his sword at them.
“Um…..I’m gonna have to say no.”
“What he said.”
“I will kill you, I will retrieve the Glove of Myhnegon and you pathetic humans will cower in fear at my power.” Lagos sneered at them as he stepped forward, causing a bruised and battered Xander and less so Faith to fall back into fighting stances.
A bolt of lightning streaks through the graveyard hitting Lagos in the back and causing him to scream in anguish, moments later he explodes. As Xander and Faith look at the spot where Lagos not so long ago stood the woman came into view.
“Well that worked beautifully.” said the woman as she stroked something on her arm, hidden by a combination of shadow and moonlight.
“First of all I’m gonna have to say, Whoa! Second, did you get it?” Xander said still a little awed at the display of power he had just seen.
“Yes thanks to you I did.” She says being to smile maliciously “a word of advice boy: you’re an idiot.” Her hand slowly begins to rise to the sky “And when you get to hell you can tell them that Gwendolyn Post sent you there. Taou Friem!”
As Xander stands shocked at the revelation and betrayal Faith leaps at him, knocking them both out of the way moments before a bolt of lightning strikes the ground where he had just stood.
Rolling to her feet, a shaken Xander doing the same behind her, Faith glares at Mrs. Post. “What the hell is your problem lady? We save you from being turned into sushi and you try to kill us?!”
“My problem, you want to know what my problem is?!” Mrs. Post asked as she clenched the glove of Myhnegon on her arm. “My problem is those self-righteous bastards back at the council, always hording power and lording it over everyone else. ‘You’ve got to pay your dues Gwen.’, ‘you’re just not ready yet.’, ‘It’s too big a responsibility for someone like you.’ well I’ve got power now and I’m gonna show those bastards.”
“And you little slayer sluts too,” This confused Faith because she’d never met the crazy bitch trying to kill them before tonight. “All that power, all that possibility and there you are sucking up to those old men and bending over when they tell you like a good little doggie. But see I’m gonna change that, I’m gonna kill you, the other one, you’re watchers and anyone else who gets in my way. And then the others will see we don’t need you…..the age of the slayer is over. Taou Friem!”
Faith and Xander leapt in opposite directions as once more lighting impacted the earth where they had stood, leaving behind a smoking crater.
“Ok I vote we put crazy here down.”
“I’m way ahead of you on that one X-man.” Faith said as she ran towards Mrs. Post, only to be forced to dodge as a bolt of lightning came towards her. This happened two more times, with each one forcing Faith to retreat further from her target, before Xander decided to try to help.
For a couple of minutes he and Faith were able to slowly gain ground as they moved closer to Mrs. Post while dodging her attacks, that is until Xander was a little slow dodging a lightning bolt and got the shock of his life as the bolt skimmed his side.
“One down, one more to go.” Mrs. Post said looking at Faith, who was glancing at Xander where he laid on the ground, his body shuddering ever now and again. “Taou Friem!” and with that the fight was back on.
Through luck, guile and agility Faith managed to get within punching distance of Mrs. Post unfortunately the Glove of Myhnegon wasn’t just for show. Post took a punch to the stomach and another to the face that staggered her backwards, the next strike she blocked with the glove and the fourth she caught.
“You slayers, so predictable.” Mrs. Post said as she squeezed Faiths fist, causing muscle and bone to bend and scrape against each other and drawing a grunt of pain from her until the bones in Faiths hand broke and the grunt became a scream. Pivoting Mrs. Post threw Faith aside and raised her hand to the sky. “Let’s end this little farce. TAOU FRIEM!!”
In that moment time seemed to slow to a crawl.Faith P.O.V
As she heard those words she knew that it was over, there was no way she’d be able to dodge the attack. Even with her slayer speed, her life would end because she had countered the roll from the throw and now she was at a dead still. But she was a slayer, even more she was Faith and if some psycho bitch was the one to end her she’d meet that end head on.
Turning her head towards where Mrs. Post was she saw the bolt of power as it streaked at her and defiance shone in her eyes. Mere feet from Faith the world disappeared in a supernova of light and she heard screams of pain. It took her a moment to realize that the screams weren’t hers and that she wasn’t being electrocuted to death, which caused her mind to go into overdrive trying to figure out what happened. The pained yelling “Faith, NOW!”, that she barely recognized as Xanders voice, drew her out of those thoughts and she looked to where the yell had come from. What she saw would stretch a second into a lifetime.
Standing there a few feet from her was a man, his back turned to her and his hair blown back by the wind, his hands extended before him and a wall of flame in front of him. And for a moment the man grew a little larger and a cloak flowed off his back, then the man screamed again and the image faded back into who had just saved her. As the man dropped to his knee he turned to her and she saw the grimacing and determined face of Xander Harris looking back at her. “I can’t hold it much longer,” he said as muscles twitched all over his body “kill the bitch!”
With that demand/request Faiths world snapped back to normal speed and dashed around the wall of flame and charged Mrs. Post’s position.Xander P.O.V‘Oh that hurt.’
Xander struggled to try and get back onto his feet and back into the fight as he watched Faith dodging Gwendolyn Post’s attacks. His efforts however were hampered by the fact that he had just taken a blast of pure electricity, and even if it only just tagged him it was still playing havoc with his nervous and muscular system, causing him to slip and tilt. As his vision blurred and cleared and his hearing went in and out he could just barely see Mrs. Post raise her hand as she spoke to faith, could barely hear what she said but when the words “TAOU FRIEM!!” were uttered his world snapped back into picture perfect clarity.
If anyone had had a clear view of Xander Harris in that moment in time they would have seen the green of his eyes bled into the brown as they did the impossible and traced the lightning’s path across the open air, his muscles tensing as they shook off their affliction preparing to move and his fangs bared in a show of anger. And then he was moving, much faster than he’d ever done when he was practicing, faster than he’d ever moved in his life. In that split second, much like Wallace Rudolph ‘Wally’ West riding the lightning for the first time, Alexander LaVelle ‘Xander’ Harris rode the flame.
Finding himself interposed between Faith and the incoming bolt of lightning, Xander knew the chances of their survival much less his were slim, so he did something that he had failed at every time he tried it. He had heard about Hound’s wall of flame during an encounter with Buffy and had been trying, for a while now without much luck, to replicate it. But now he had to do it, he had both his and Faiths lives riding on this, so he reached deep down to where his flame resided and pulled, harder, with more force and more demanding than ever before. Seconds later a wall of flame sprung into being, stopping the blast of deadly energy.
Unfortunately for him the flame did not stop all of the power of the bolt and some passed into him, causing his muscles to go haywire and making him scream in agony. Gritting his teeth he called out “Faith, NOW!” as instead of stopping, Gwendolyn Post rained blast after blast at his shield. Dropping to his knee as he felt his shield beginning to give and seeing no movement from Faith he turned to look at her, an exercise in self-torture the way his muscles were seizing, on the floor looking at him with something in her eyes, gritting his teeth he yelled “I can’t hold it much longer, kill the bitch!” and was rewarded by Faith snapping out of her stupor and running forward.General P.O.V
As Gwendolyn Post rained down bolt after bolt of lightning at the idiotic boy who had audacity, and somehow the power, to think that he could defy her, her anger and engrossment caused her to miss Faiths dash into the shadows and toward her. And she didn’t see, and barely felt it, when Faith slammed a fist into her temple knocking her out.
As the almost constant stream of lightning stopped Xander fell on his back, the wall of flame going out like a candle in a harsh breeze, wheezing as his muscles shock and he struggled to draw in much needed air. When Faith walked back over to him and stood over his head it took all he had to shift his head to look up at her. “You alright there X?”
“If you got her, then I’m fine,” Xander said closing his eyes “if not, I’m going to sleep and she can kill there.” Faiths foot nudging his shoulder forced him to open his eyes, tilting her head to indicate he should look. Letting his head roll to the side Xander saw Gwendolyn Post’s unconscious form gagged and restrained by what used to be her jacket. Groaning he looked back up at Faith “You know, I’m not sure this was the better option.” causing her to smile slightly as she offered him her hand.
A hill overlooking the graveyard
“Your whelps little pup is coming along.” said a man who was smoking a cigar. He was 6’3’’ dressed in a charcoal grey suit with a black shirt and a blood red tie with a clasp depicting a howling wolf. His long black hair fell around his head, his eyes hidden behind a pair of sunglass and a predatory air about him.
“Leave the kid alone Fenris.” Cerberus said, standing beside the now identified ‘Fenris’.
“You wound me cousin, I’ve no plans towards the boy.” Fenris said with a look of innocence that would have made a saint look guilty by comparison, not that by the look Cerberus gave him did he believe it. “Fine, fine I’ll leave the little pup be, for now.”
Cerberus’s remark was stopped as he tilted his head, a look of concentration on his face. “Son of a bitch, someone’s playing with time and that idiot is caught up in it.” He said before he simply vanished.
Fenris gave a smile that would have had the denizens of hell turning tail, as he watched Xander limping beside Faith who had Gwendolyn Post thrown over her shoulder. “I’ll be seeing ya kid.” He said and then vanished into the night.
Same time Los Angeles, chamber of the Oracles
A portal shimmered into existence as the Oracles looked on. The room was soon swallowed in an explosion of light hiding everything from sight. As the light slowly faded definition returned to the room, on the floor lay the motionless form of a man.
“There is no time to rest, our champion,” The male Oracle began.
“We still have much for you to do.” The female Oracle finished.
The man on the floor began to moan and groan as he rolled. He rolled on his back to reveal the face of the vampire with a soul, Angel. As he slowly opened his eyes and painfully began to climb to his knees the Oracles began to smile, the plans of The Powers would not be deterred.The End
Did you seriously think the Powers would let someone destroy their plans without a fight?
Translation: ‘Taou Freim’ means ‘Be Free’
Xander riding the flame is not a cheap shot to make him more powerful, it’s in this case something purely instinctual that happened when he’s too hurt to think well and one of his girls are in danger. It will also serve to explain some things Hound can do later.
Sorry about the delay but there was a death in the family and that’s more important than a story.