Beer, Mead, a Job Offer, & Ivory Soap
Disclaimer: Don’t own BTVS or any Marvel property.
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen a certain Marvel movie that recently opened involving a certain patriotic super hero from the 1940s or a certain other movie involving an Asgardian god, then you may NOT want to read this story. For those of you that did, I hope you catch the subtle hints.
Author’s Notes: Once again, Wow! Can’t believe the hits and feedback I’ve been getting on this. Truth be told, I was expecting it to be ignored or a certain mod to get pissed at me and toss in quarantine. That hasn’t happened so (*knocks on wood*), I must be doing something right. Next up, I want to thank everyone for reading this fic and reviewing. This has been one hell of a ride and I’m enjoying it. However, just to warn you, I won’t be updating this as often since I’m also working on that OTHER project (WARNING: Shameless promo/plug for “War of Angels”…WARNING WARNING WARNING) which has priority.
“So,” Xander said, trying to keep his tone friendly as he quietly reached under the table for his knife, “who are you, really?”
The old man studied Xander for a moment, a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth, and then chuckled as he put something on the table that Xander recognized as the very knife he was reaching for. “First off, young man,” the old man said, pausing for a moment to take a sip of his drink, “if you’re going to use a weapon on me, I’d prefer you’d keep it out in the open.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“No, I didn’t.” Then the old man smiled again. “You can relax, Alexander, I’m not an enemy.”
“Are you one of them? One of the Powers?”
The old man snorted and shook his head. “Please,” he said, “a bunch of spoiled little children with power who are under the delusion of treading into the realm of the gods?” He leaned back in his chair and spread his arms out. “Look at me boy, do you really think I fit that description?”
“No,” Xander replied, “but I know you’re not some harmless old man. You know who I am, which is one up on everyone else in this world, so that tells me that you are more than what you pretend to be.”
“What I am, Alexander,” the old man said, leaning forward and lowering his voice a little, “is a very old man enjoying a drink with a lost warrior.” He took another pull off his drink and nodded. “Ah, honey mead, probably one of the best drinks known to mankind. Not as good as real mead at home, but close enough.”
“Never thought of myself as a warrior, old man.”
“No, of course not, you fought, even though others saw you as the weak link. Truth be told, from what I’ve seen, you were the glue that kept them from falling apart.” For a moment, a dark expression crossed the man’s face. “Had I been in your plane of existence, Alexander, I wouldn’t have tolerated the actions of some of your so called ’friends’ or your ‘Powers That Be‘.” Then, just as quickly, the smile returned. “When I first sensed your arrival to this realm, I was content to simply leave you be. After all, the affairs of Midgard are really not my concern, despite recent events that tell me that a great change is about to happen here.”
Xander’s eyes narrowed when he heard the word “Midgard”, because it started to trigger a memory. Okay, I’ve heard that word before, but from where? Midgard…wait…Norse Myth…hold on.
Then his eyes widened as he remembered he was now in a world that he had once believed to be fictional. “Oh shit,” he said, his voice barely more than a whisper, “you’re not a PTB, you’re one of the Asgard. One eye…Odin, right?”
The Ruler of Asgard chuckled again, placing his mug on the table, and clapping softly in mock applause. “Very good, Alexander, you are far more intelligent than your friends believed you to be.”
Xander wasn’t exactly sure what to do next. Dealing with demons and a Hellgoddess like Glory was one thing, but here he was talking to an actual member of a mythological pantheon. Worse yet, it was the leader of a mythological pantheon. “Yeah,” he managed to say after a few moments, “but they figured it out eventually.”
“And a little too late, perhaps?” There was a sympathetic tone in Odin’s voice, it wasn’t pity, just merely acknowledgement of having endured similar experiences. “However, as I said before, I sensed your arrival here but I was going to leave you be…until I was approached by two advocates on your behalf.”
“Let me guess,” Xander said, “did one of them happen to be an attractive young woman with dark longish hair and a blunt attitude that had you wanting to throw a few lightning bolts at her? Not that it would do you a lot of good and would probably annoy her even more.”
“She was one of them, yes,” Odin replied. “And I have to admit it was amusing to hear her tell my oldest son that she would, and I quote her directly, shove his hammer so far up his ass that he would shoot lightning out of his mouth every time he spoke.”
Xander, who was taking a sip of his beer, almost choked when he hear this. “Yeah,” he managed to say, “that sounds like Cordy.”
“I do believe it’s the probably the second time in his life that my son has had a woman cut his arrogance down to size.” The smile on Odin’s face grew as he remembered that moment. “But it was your story that intrigued me, especially after she showed me your life. It was a tale truly worthy of the Asgard.” The smile then faded a little. “It’s a pity that you were callously tossed aside by those fools who never truly grasped the concept of a true warrior’s spirit.”
“You said there were two advocates,” Xander said, curiosity over who else vouched for him. “Who was the other?”
This time, the smile faded completely and, for a moment, Xander thought he saw something in the god’s eye that he didn’t think possible…fear or, at the very least, respect for whatever it was that caused that fear. “That is not for me to say, Alexander, but she informed me that it was not your time yet. But let’s talk about you and why I’m here.”
Xander brought his hand up. “Hold on a second,” he said, sniffing the air for a moment, “I think we might be watched.”
Odin smirked and shook his head, making an absent minded gesture with his right hand. “Perhaps, but that won’t matter.”
Mystique, for the first time in her life, was grateful for the years she had worked as a waitress. It allowed her to almost become invisible. For fun, when she worked at various restaurants, she would occasionally morph into different forms and pass by the same tables, eavesdropping on various conversations, learning what she could about people. It was a useful way of getting information, and she sometimes thought with amusement that she would make one hell of a government spy…if said government wasn’t so anti-mutant and anti-woman.
But that was another topic for another time. Right now, she was focusing one Alexander Harris, their mysterious visitor and, if Erik and Emma were telling the truth, a man out of time…almost over forty years out of time, trapped in the past. She still couldn’t believe it, but she also knew Erik and Emma were not likely to make up such a fantastic tale. What she couldn’t believe is the fact that she, Erik, and the others were fictional characters in the world Alexander came from. If Alexander was to be believed, comic books and animated features were based on them. And Charles is bald!
Mystique couldn’t help chuckling at that, especially if, in the future, Charles did lose his hair. But she also felt a hint of sadness when it was revealed that, even in the future, Charles was in a wheelchair and that Erik was somehow involved with that happening.
So, after the little discussion with Erik, she decided to track down Alexander or, as he preferred to be called, Xander. It was obvious that the young man was not exactly human but, according to Emma, he wasn’t a mutant either. She was curious about the young man, especially with his attitude. He didn’t seem put off by her appearance or that of Azazel and she couldn’t help wondering what kind of world he came from where someone like him didn’t even blink at her unusual appearance. Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t too pleasant, if the experiences on that world traumatized Emma were any indication.
She also wanted to call Xander’s on his “bluff” about sniffing her out. There was no way he could sense her coming. Although, just to be sure, she showered twice, using basic soap and then showered a third time for a complete rinse. She felt a little silly, but dammit, she couldn’t help but rise to the little playful challenge. Tracking him down to a small cantina in the village was relatively easy. She shifted her form to that of a young Mexican girl and took a seat at a corner table so she could observe Xander who seemed more interested in the paper he was reading than the surroundings.
Then that’s when things got weird. An old man with long hair tied back in a ponytail and wearing an eye patch over his right eye walked up to Xander’s table and, after a moment, took a seat. It struck Mystique as more than a little odd, because she had, out of habit, looked around the cantina to see how many patrons were there and she could have sworn the old man was in the cantina before. It was almost as if he appeared out of nowhere, but that couldn’t be possible; she would have seen the old man come into the cantina.
Mystique watched as the two one-eyed men talked to each other and was about to move closer to see if she could overhear the conversation when the old man laughed and gestured with his right hand, and it was as if the two men had merely disappeared. No dramatic disappearance or teleportation, it was as if they simply blurred out of existence before simply vanishing. What the hell?
Xander blinked for a moment to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. The old man had made some gesture with his hand and it looked as if everyone in the cantina, the servers, the bartender, the other patrons, and the mariachi band seemed to blur out of existence, leaving just him and Odin sitting at their table in a now empty cantina.
“That’s better, isn’t it?” Odin asked.
“Nice trick,” Xander said, looking around the now empty cantina “so where are we, exactly?”
“Oh, we’re, just maybe a little out of alignment with the rest of Midgard for a little bit,” Odin replied with a shrug. “Long enough to conduct our business.”
“Oh, so this is a business meeting then.” Xander gave the other man a knowing smirk. “Is this an actual deal or sort of a ‘veiled threat’ kind of deal where you tell me to behave or you’ll hit me with some divine smiting?”
“If you were truly from this realm, young man, I would take offense. However, given your past encounters, I can understand your reaction.” Odin leaned forward, resting his arms on the table as he folded his hands in front of him. “I, believe it or not, would like to offer you a job.”
Again, Xander blinked in confusion for a moment. “Excuse me, did I hear that right?”
“Unless you are deaf as well as half-blind, you did hear me correctly.”
“Okay, wasn’t expecting that. It’s not every day a Norse god offers me a job. And, exactly, what will I be doing?”
Odin smiled again, a malicious gleam in his eye that unsettled Xander. “Oh, that’s beauty of it, my boy…you really don’t have to anything outside of what you’re already doing. Occasionally, I might ask you to look into something for me, but you will pretty much be given a free reign.”
“Well, given the fact I’m lost in the 60s, out of time AND dimension, I don’t see myself doing much of anything.”
“Oh, that’s were you are wrong, my young friend,” Odin said, shaking his head again. “Think of this world, this plane of existence,” Odin spread his arms out as if to include the world surrounding them, “as a pond. And you, Alexander Harris, are giant rock that has been thrown in that pond, sending out ripples that change the surface of the water, the ripples will continue to shore or other objects in the pond and rebound from them. Eventually the effect dies down, but it the rock has clearly changed the environment by its presence.”
“Okay, I get it…I think,” Xander said. “I show up, chaos happens and my being here will change things. There’s no need to get cryptic on me.”
“Ah, but that’s a requirement of being a god,” Odin chuckled, “in fact, it’s one of the great joys that come with our job. I also believe there is a line in our sacred scrolls that say it is our sacred duty to be cryptic.”
Odin nodded, a suddenly grim and serious expression on his face which, after a couple seconds, broke into laughter. “No, not really,” he admitted, “but we have to get our amusement some how.”
“Great,” Xander muttered, rolling his eye. “The leader of the Asgard has a since of humor.”
“And you do not?”
“I’m a mortal, not a god, so I have an excuse.” Xander allowed himself a chuckle as he shook his head. “But seriously,” he said, “why me?”
“Why not?” Odin asked. “It’s not as if you have anything else to do. Unless I am wrong and you have some pressing engagement that requires your presence at this time?”
Xander had to admit that the old man…no, he corrected himself, the Norse god had a point. “But what can I do for you? I mean, I’m just a normal guy.”
“Normal,” Odin laughed, “those idiot mortals who nearly burned their world in fire only a few weeks ago were normal. The mortals that you were with in your previous world, though powered by magic, were normal. The beings you are currently with, though they have extraordinary natural abilities, are still normal.” He then raised a finger, slightly pointing at Xander. “But you, Alexander, are not. Though a mere mortal, you choose to stay and fight, no matter the odds, even if it means your death. There are some, even among the gods, who still hesitate when they know that there is a possibility they could die. But you…you will hardly even blink and that is what makes you special. Also, in case haven’t noticed, you clearly no longer follow your definition of ‘normal’.”
“So what, I’m a mutant then?”
“No,” Odin replied. “You were the victim of various possessions and subjected to changes in your body that were always there. All what really needed to be done was to bring them more to the forefront and empower them.”
“Because those ignorant fools who exiled you here were hoping that you would be killed and they would finally be rid of you.” Odin didn’t bother hiding his disgust when talking about the Powers That Be. “Perhaps they figured you would anger someone here and they would kill you off. What they didn’t count on was your friend stepping in on your behalf and approaching me.”
“Wait,” realization hit Xander, “Cordy said she had done something…I’m like this because of her.”
Odin nodded. “To be honest, I really didn’t need much convincing to help. I merely amplified the abilities you had, that is all. As for why…Midgard is changing Alexander Harris. I pledged long ago not to meddle in the affairs, but recent events have made me reconsider. Only twenty years ago, someone had found one of our,” Odin hesitated for a moment as he tried to think of the appropriate word, “artifacts and tried to use it as a weapon. It is once again lost somewhere here on Midgard and I fear it’s only a matter of time before some mortals stumble across it. And then, you have the sudden appearance of mortals who, though mortal, are born with the powers of the gods themselves and I foresee a troubling future ahead.”
“You have no idea,” Xander said, “it could get very dark.”
“Agreed.” Then Odin smiled at him again. “And then you show up and the visions of the future are suddenly…limitless. Before, it was pretty much written with only a couple possibilities, but now…just by your presence alone, those possibilities are now infinite.”
“Some would argue that’s not a good thing,” Xander replied.
“Perhaps, but you are a good man, Alexander Harris and that leads me to believe that there are times that chaos and change might be good.”
“So, let me get this straight, you want me to just hang out down here and occasionally answer to you, right?”
“Yes, I do believe that sums it up.”
“And what if I simply decide to just sit around and do nothing?”
Odin stared at Alexander for a moment, saying nothing and finishing off the last off his he drink. He then set the empty mug on the table and gave Xander a knowing grin. “Really Alexander,” he said, “do you really think you’re capable of merely standing by and doing nothing?”
“No,” Xander admitted, “but where am I going to go? What am I going to do?”
“Well, that’s easy enough, what do you know? What area are you familiar with?”
“Well, the world I’m from was far advanced than here.”
“Yes, but not the entire world…after all, your old life ended in a land where barbarians still ruled, though the tools of warfare had advanced. That land is still here, and I doubt there are many differences from the place you were used to.”
“Wait, are you telling me to go to Africa?”
“I said no such thing.” Odin chuckled and gestured with his right hand again, causing the rest of the world to suddenly blur back into existence around them. “I was merely suggesting to simply go with what you know, that is all.” With that comment, he got up from the table, reaching into his coat to grab a small bag that he then placed on the table. “What you ultimately do with yourself, Alexander, is up to you. However, think of this as…and I believe this is what you mortals call…a retainer.” He then turned and walked away, leaving Xander to ponder his options.
The moment she saw Xander and the old man vanish, Mystique got up and started to make her way to the table, but was cut off by a couple patrons who got up from their table and briefly walked in front of her on their way towards the exit. When they had gotten out of the way, Xander and the old man were back and the old man was just getting up from the table to leave, pausing for a moment to leave a small bag on the table before turning to walk away. Okay, what the hell just happened? Who was that man?
She knew what she saw…she saw the two men vanish, she had not imagined it. At the very least, she had to inform Erik about this. She then saw Xander get up from the table, grab the small bag, then reach into his pocket to pull out some Pesos to pay for his meal. He then proceeded to walk towards the exit, walking by her. She kept her face neutral as he passed, not even looking at her. Guess I fooled you, didn’t I, Xander?
Then her moment of smug victory was shattered when Xander glanced over his shoulder and said, “You went overboard on the Ivory.” And then, with a soft chuckle, he made his way out of the cantina and into the night. Dammit!