Down the Rabbit Hole
Xander screamed as he fell through the void, a Terakan had pointed at him in the final moments of the damn church fiasco and he had found himself falling. He wasn’t quite sure if that had been centuries or seconds ago, but at the moment he was sure that it was far too long for his liking.
With a pulse of power, the final remnants of the hyena possession sacrificed itself, shifting the portal from the original location. While it hadn’t quite known where this new portal would open up, it was unwilling to go quietly wherever the assassin wanted and with a pulse of green energy Alexander Harris disappeared.
Around the world the inhabitants turned towards the odd green star that gleamed in the gathering twilight for a moment. Many considered it an omen of good or bad of things to come. Some considered it a natural phenomenon created from excessive swamp gas in the upper atmosphere. Others wondered at the beauty and set out to eternally capture the moment in song, dance and/or paint, but most simply shrugged and turned back to their drinks.
One recent arrival simply screamed as he plummeted towards the earth from thirty five thousand feet. Had Alexander Harris intended to fall from such a height he might have enjoyed the view, he certainly would have brought such important pieces of equipment as an oxygen bottle or parachute along with him. After a few brief moments of screaming, he rapidly turned his focus to the frantic gasping for oxygen before passing out.
Waking up with a headache is a bad way to start the day. Waking up with a headache while still in freefall at fifteen thousand feet is actually worse. For a horrifying moment, Xander felt the panicked screams he had been using so skillfully earlier rise up within him before simply letting out a sigh. It wasn’t any use and it would just make his journey to the next life that much more embarrassing, he may as well have some dignity in this last final ride.
Splaying out as much as possible, Xander fought the wind as it tried to spin him like a dervish while he tried to maintain the least aerodynamic shape he could. For a moment he sent a blessing out to Miss Grunding, who had actually taught him about aerodynamics and made a mental oath to pay more attention in school, if he miraculously lived through this. He would never comment that it would never do him any good in real life ever again. Of course he was hoping that his ‘ever again’ was longer than the next minute or so of plummeting doom before he met his end at the unflinching surface of the earth below. For a moment he almost wished he was falling towards Sunnydale so he could at least try to aim for Snyder’s car before shrugging the thought off, it was both petty and below him.
He was shocked to discover that his humor was still in effect as the ‘below him’ comment had actually forced a slight snicker out of his so far silent descent.
Taking stock of the total situation Xander was somewhat amazed at the massive mountain range that was reaching up towards him before shifting slightly in a desperate bid to reach one of the heavier snow caps, thankfully his recent soldier possession had been jump certified and had been a bit paranoid about his chute not opening, he knew that several people had survived falls such as this and lived, he also knew that the odds were against him but due to a lack of alternatives was taking the Han Solo option concerning them.
As he neared his final moment, Xander was shocked to notice a half dozen humans moving about in the general location of his soon to be ballistic impact point. Cursing the universe for making his life even more complicated, Xander reoriented his feet towards the ground and assumed the five point impact position before whispering a prayer that he not hit someone. In the last moments, he could have sworn he felt a massive gust of wind rise up and slow him slightly before he impacted.
As his feet hit the snow he let his knees buckle as he rolled forward. Rolling through the impact completely, Xander felt several bones break and shatter under the force before he came to a surprised stop staring up at the slowly darkening sky. For a moment he wondered if he had actually died before the endorphin rush faded slightly and he came to the realization that death likely didn’t hurt as much as this. Thankfully the people he had managed to miss were quickly gathering around and Xander blinked, he could accept the baldness as they seemed to be some sort of monks, but someone had played a bad prank on them all as they each had a blue arrow painted on the tops of their heads.
Thinking desperately for a moment, Xander tried to come up with something witty to say in response to falling out of a clear blue sky before chuckling through the pain “Watch that first step, it’s a doozy,” he ground out before thankfully passing out, again.
Around the unconscious male, the gathered Air Nomads stared between the recent arrival and Monk Gyatso who alone had managed to bend fast enough to slow the falling boy.
After a moment to center himself from the near panic at seeing the falling person, the Elder turned back to the gathered monks and frowned. “While introspection and careful thought is of great importance, I believe our young friend would be better served with medical treatment back at the temple,” he commented simply and smirked as the gathered monks jumped and hurried to render aid to the young man.
Turning back to his charge, Gyatso smiled at the awestruck Aang. Avatar the boy may one day be, but he was still as easily impressed as the other students the Monk had taught. Of course, now he only had to keep the young Avatar from imitating this young man’s actions and he could count this day successful.
Groaning as he woke back up to the as usual feeling of pain, Xander rubbed his eyes and he tried to focus enough to make sense of all the various pain signals. “Oh god, what hit me,” he groaned and froze as he actually got a response.
“The earth. Or to be more specific I believe you hit it. Of course, between the two of you I believe you came out considerably worse than your opponent,” a voice responded with the dry wit and humor he only managed to pick up due to many verbal sparring matches with Giles.
Jerking upright Xander felt his entire body scream in protest before the vertigo of such an action forced him back to the small cot as he held his head and willed the universe to stop spinning.
“I would suggest you not move, but I feel that advice is of less value than it was a moment ago,” the voice said before a cool wet cloth was placed on his forehead, thankfully it seemed to help and Xander managed to open his eyes without the urge to vomit.
Taking in the commenter, Xander was surprised to see a man that seemed only slightly younger than mud smiling down at him with the same look of humor Giles got when he managed to pull one over on the Xand-man and was waiting for him to catch up. “You can say that again,” Xander said before he groaned as the older man started to repeat his previous comment.
Finally chuckling, Xander took a moment to leverage himself up into a sitting position as he took stock of his injuries; a broken leg and at least one cracked rib, his toe was hurting more than the other breaks so that was likely damaged worse than the other breaks. Other than those and more bruises than he thought it was possible to have, it seemed he had gotten off lucky. Of course falling through a dimensional portal and surviving a thirty thousand foot drop had probably exhausted this lifetime’s supply of luck entirely. Leaning against the cool stone wall, Xander took in his surroundings before giving up. “This might sound a bit silly, but I am guessing I’m not in Kansas anymore, can you tell me where I am?”
Shrugging the odd speech off, Gyatso nodded. “Indeed you are not, you are currently in the fifth room on the left hand side of the west corridor on the northwest tower in the southern air temple in the westernmost mountain range of the southeast Earth kingdom.” Gyatso said and watched as the young man tensed again.
After a moment, Xander forced himself to relax, he could break down later if he needed. He had known as soon as he fell through the portal that it likely wasn’t going to drop him off at the local seven-eleven, but the thought that he would be in a totally different world was… Honestly it scared him more than a little, he was mildly startled when a hand was gently set on his shoulder drawing his attention back to the old man.
“Rest now, time is what is needed for mind, body and spirit to heal,” Gyatso said before straightening up and moving towards the exit. “I shall bring some food, water is in the canister by your head and a chamber pot is at the foot, I would recommend you not get the two confused.” He explained before leaving Xander to his musings.
After a moment’s thought, Xander finally turned back towards the door, “Umm… I didn’t actually get his name,” he muttered before shrugging. “Oh well, how many geezers with arrows painted on their heads can there be.”
Climbing the mountain, Xander thought about the last year, he had been accepted into the temple and the vast majority of the monks had been very helpful in getting him settled. A few had been sticks in the mud, but thankfully Gyatso and Aang had pelted them with flying pies until they retreated in defeat. The Air bending had been cool and Xander had put a lot of effort into learning it, unfortunately the only air he had managed to work had been one rather unfortunate evening when he had cooked uncle Rory’s special Bean and Cabbage surprise with Spicy Lentil curry. It had hit the temple like a plague, the moaning and cries of pain had echoed through the temple well into the night and many a young monk had been forcibly ejected from the temple for the day until the epidemic had passed. Xander had been issued a stern and binding order to never cook again under pain of being locked in a room with his victims.
Gyatso had actually slipped the recipe into a merchants wares on his route towards the fire nation. He had spent many days afterwards attempting to atone for such an atrocity, but seemed to fail as he would routinely snicker during his meditations at the thought of the terror such a recipe would cause in the innocent fire nation.
Aang had loved the entire episode and had spent several weeks trying to work a new type of air bending out of the event. Thankfully for everyone… well everywhere, he had finally gotten discouraged enough to stop, although Xander would still catch him creating air balls at times and then trying to sit on them. For a time he had considered talking to the boy, but eventually shrugged it off, so long as the kid didn’t hurt himself, who was he to complain.
He had sort of adopted the constantly chipper kid as a surrogate brother. The eight year old was constantly getting into and out of more trouble than Willow, Jesse and himself had ever managed back home. For a brief moment he felt a pang of loss at the thought of home and his missing friends before taking a deep breath and letting it out, just as Monk Pasang had taught him. Centering himself, Xander continued on his journey. He couldn’t air bend and he couldn’t even learn the steps of the strange fighting dance thing the air nomads did, but he could get out of their way and try to ‘find himself’ as Gyatso had suggested.
Finally reaching the top of the mountain, Xander lowered himself to the ground and worked towards inner peace. Several times he was interrupted by the chattering Lemurs before he managed to find his center and sink into a deep trance.
Several hours later, he was rudely forced from his introspection by a massive slimy tongue licking his face and the vast majority of his body along with it. Taking a moment to spit and wipe in a futile attempt to clear himself of the spittle, Xander finally focused on the giggling Aang and happy Sky Bison that had slimed him. Finally taking off his shirt and clearing his face with the back of it Xander wrung out a considerable amount of saliva before launching the rolled up cloth at Aang. In a matter of minutes the two were running around the massive beast as Appa simply flopped to the ground and started to grumble out a conversation with the Lemurs.
Staring up at the oncoming avalanche, Xander cursed his luck. He had followed Aang as the nine year old had gone off on one of his adventures and long standing experience had taught him that the youngster was capable of drawing more trouble to himself than Buffy had been and God help him once Kuzon and that maniac Bumi got together with him. Xander wasn’t quite sure how the planet survived their antics.
This time Aang had been putting the final touches on his air scooter, or at least trying to on a small shelf on the side of the mountain. Unfortunately, the experiment had gotten away from him and Xander was witness to a compressed ball of air with a nine year old rider shooting away and slamming into the side of the mountain starting a chain reaction that would likely see both Xander and the unconscious kid dead.
Rushing out, Xander grabbed the stunned Air bender, he didn’t quite know what he was doing but Xander knew he couldn’t run. That meant he could only face his inevitable death, so, turning towards the collapsing mountainside, Xander planted his feet solidly on the rock face. For a moment he felt a tingle in the soles of his feet before it ran up his body and out into his hands, much as Aang explained bending felt like while they were dancing. Taking a chance, Xander pushed out towards the tons of snow and dirt crashing down on them and was surprised as a massive stone block shot out of the mountain.
As the avalanche crashed around them, Xander held the position until the massive earthen tidal wave passed. Taking a shuddering breath, Xander collapsed to the ground trembling from exertion before turning towards Aang and carefully shaking the unconscious boy. He was slightly startled as Aang jerked straight up and looked around frantically shouting about starting a chicken-duck farm before dropping back to the ground.
Staring at him for a moment, Xander finally lifted the small kid and started making his way back towards the temple. Monk Tashi was cooking tonight and the crotchety old goat always did make a mean curry. He was thinking that maybe Monk Gyatso or Monk Pasang could help him get some earth bending training. Of course, from what he saw of Bumi and some of the other Earth Benders, their training seemed to revolve around surviving big things being thrown at them and if it was all the same maybe he could just figure it out on his own.
Shifting slightly away from an attack from the manic little monstrosity, Xander shifted his footing to a more secure stance and pushed, focusing the energy back down into the earth and towards his opponent. Xander sighed as instead of the massive stone spikes he was going for, the ground rippled into a one foot section of inch tall spikes. Shifting slightly, Xander felt the energy and pulled, this time creating a ten foot tall barrier of rock that blocked everything the “mad genius” Bumi threw at him.
In the year since he had discovered he was an earth bender, Xander had learned that he wasn’t as good on the attack as other earth benders. Bumi claimed that it was a psychological issue, or possibly an issue with his mother. He had also brought up a rather dramatic monologue over the inherent strengths of two-ply toilet paper compared to three that bothered Xander on a level he didn’t even want to comprehend. The fact that the little menace had actually created toilet paper, before they had even created toilets, just from a conversation Xander had been a part of was a little unsettling and really put into focus that, despite his eccentricities the kid really was a genius.
Refocusing on the fight, Xander tried to come up with a plan. While his defenses were some of the best Bumi had ever seen, Xander really did suck at the attack. Taking a moment to rebuild his defenses, Xander took a deep breath and built up an image in his mind before giving a stomp. Surprisingly enough, his plan worked and a stone sword popped out of the ground. Grabbing the heavy blade, Xander felt old memories rush back and he charged. He may be horrible at attacking with Earth bending, but maybe a more personal approach would give him an edge.
Shifting his feet out into a lower stance, Xander felt the energy rush up into his hands before he shoved outwards again, throwing a series of massive stones towards his opponent. He was pleased when his partner followed through with the plan and the fire bender caught the massive stone ablaze. In the last year, Xander had gotten considerably better at attacking. He was still better at hand to hand combat, but that gap was rapidly closing. With a pulse of air, Monk Gyatso shoved the first stone away before spinning left and around the second and third. With a little energy and two steps the old monk had managed to completely bypass their attack and was now considerably closer to the combatants than either wanted. Throwing up a wall of earth, Xander and Shukan moved back to give them some combat room.
With another burst of air, Gyatso leapt over the wall before hitting the ground with a third burst, throwing up a blinding spray of pebbles and dust. Another stone wall came up as the two tried to clear their vision before Xander saw his mistake. The air blast had been a distraction to get them to look away and a stone wall was just as effective at blocking their sight as dust and rocks, dropping the wall Xander watched helplessly as a micro tornado whipped past him and knocked Shukan out of the fight. In the last five minutes Gyatso had knocked out fifteen assorted air and fire benders with Xander as the only Earth Bender playing. Throwing up his best defenses, Xander rolled a massive ball of granite around him and tried to think up a plan of attack, he never even managed to think one up before he was unconscious.
Waking up, Xander spared a glare for the good natured old man before shaking his head and moving back to take a seat on the stones and listen to the older man’s advice. While he still hated getting beaten like that, he was at least smart enough to learn from his defeats. Several of the fire nation students had stormed off, their pride battered at the thought of this old man besting them single handedly. Xander was mildly pleased that Shukan had stayed. The guy was obnoxious, but was a pretty cool guy all the same, besides it was hard to hate a guy that seemed so very interested in everything involving the Southern Air Temple.
Xander ran, he knew Aang well enough to know the twelve year old was not dealing with the whole Avatar thing very well. The systematic shunning from everyone else at the temple had really impacted the nearly impossibly chipper kid and Xander cursed himself for leaving. True he had really learned a lot at Ba Sing Se, but he had missed out on helping his little brother through a difficult time. Now the Council was trying to get Gyatso taken away as caretaker and Xander had a pretty good idea of Aangs response. After the hellmouth, Xander would bet that the young man had listened in on the Council at precisely the wrong moment and ran off before the rest of the conversation could be finished with the decision for Gyatso to go with him to the Eastern Air Temple for further training.
Rushing out into the storm, Xander was just in time to see the massive Sky Bison step off the edge with a familiar bald kid on its back. With every last ounce of power behind him, Xander used earth bending to launch himself into the air after his little brother and for a brief moment as he flew through the storm Xander’s mind flashed back to his arrival in this strange little world before he landed on the wet, hairy back of Appa and scared the crap out of both the sky bison and the young Avatar.
After a brief conversation, Xander managed to convince the distraught Aang to only fly down to the western water village for the weekend before returning. Having fixed that, Xander settled down in the back of Appa’s saddle and slowly drifted off to sleep, it had been a long trip from Ba Sing Se and he hadn’t gotten any rest.
Several hours later Xander woke up to the thrashing turbulence of the Sky Bison in the storm, moving towards the struggling Aang, Xander barely missed getting a hold of him as Appa lost altitude and crashed into the heavy waves, after a moments futile struggling in the rough surf, Xander was dragged under by a ten ton Sky Bison.
Then there was a flash of light.
And then there was nothing.
(A/N) I don't own BtVS or Avatar: tLAB
Depending on reviews i may or may not continue this