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Summary: Xander joined his cousin on an archeological expedition after Graduation instead of heading to Oxnard and the Fabulous Ladies Nightclub, which has led to some significant changes to Xander's life. For one thing, he's now employed by the Air Force as a ci

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-CenteredGreywizardFR1837,30246925,98813 Jul 1125 Aug 14No

Chapter Two

Author’s Note 1: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author’s Note 2: As usual, “word” indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

Author’s Note 3: This is story #2 in my own personal Christmas Fic-A-Day Challenge.

~/~/~

The country of Kahndaq
Northeastern Africa

A recently discovered pyramid approximately
sixty-five miles southwest of the capital city, Shiruta

June 12, 1999

"Well, this is FUBAR!"

{ Why did I *ever* think that my luck was gonna change for the better, just because I wasn't living on a damn Hellmouth anymore? } Xander Harris asked himself, as he looked around the underground chamber he was currently trapped in. And then he (relatively) calmly considered the events which had led to his present situation.

It hadn’t been long after Graduation, when Buffy, Willow and Oz had been doing their own thing and Cordelia had been preparing to depart to Los Angeles, when Xander had gotten the phone call from Flynn Carson. And upon receiving the phone call offering him a chance to accompany his cousin on his latest archeological dig – something he realized, given his situation, was truly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – Xander had given the idea a bare second's thought before enthusiastically accepting.

After all, traveling to a foreign country wasn't something that he was probably ever going to be able to do in either the near or distant future on his own, considering that his current employment prospects ranged from abysmal to merely pathetic. A directionless high school graduate couldn’t exactly be choosy who to work for, and – at the time – Xander had thought he would be *crazy* not grab Flynn’s offer with both hands.

Regardless – after informing his friends that, instead of touring the United States as he'd originally planned, he was going to be exploring the ruins of an ancient African civilization, Xander had basked in the radiance of everyone’s envious looks for a moment. Before promising to regale them with his tales of the amazing discoveries and subsequent collateral academic acclaim which he was certain would follow.

Willow, especially, had been near-speechless with a combination of amazement and envy upon hearing her oldest friend’s upcoming plans. Buffy had likewise been near-speechless, even though her reaction had been also been colored with relief that her powerless male friend wouldn’t get himself killed staying in Sunnydale over the summer. Oz, well, it was impossible to ever tell what he was really feeling; but the upraised eyebrows could be taken as a sign of envy. Even Giles had appeared to be a tiny bit envious, after hearing exactly who it was he would be accompanying, and helping, on his trip.

Cordelia, though – she had just stared at him for five seconds before storming out of the room. Worried, Xander had followed the former cheerleader and, once he’d caught up with her, asked what was wrong. He hadn’t believed the ex-cheerleader when she’d barked out, “Nothing!!”, but thanks to the influence of a so-called higher being, Harris had left it at that, instead of forcing Cordelia to admit she’d secretly been hoping to take him with her to the City of Angels.

In any case, Xander’s flight to New York to meet Flynn, who'd given him all the paperwork to sign for becoming part of the expedition, was completely uneventful – something he'd thought at the time was an indication of how the rest of his summer would proceed, given the compete lack of anything the least bit Hellmouth-y about his plans. Of course, considering his and the other Scoobies' history, Xander should have immediately realized that the peacefulness he was experiencing was, far more likely, merely a short intermission prior to Fate stepping in and looking to screw him over.

Looking back, he'd decided later, the next few days had merely been the calm before the storm until Fate thought it was an appropriate time to stick it to him, and nothing of any significance had occurred. At least, that is, until they had been joined at the excavation site by one of Carson's former mentors and close friend, Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. or, as he preferred to be called, 'Indiana.'

The renowned and highly revered archeologist had been reviewing the work done by an earlier group of graduate students who'd accidentally uncovered the initial access to the site, and had been accompanied by Carson and Xander, acting as his primary assistants/bodyguards, when Fate had evidently decided that it had refrained long enough from screwing him over, and the site was attacked by a group of hopeful, would-be tomb robbers.

After they'd managed to distract and then fight off a relatively small faction of the group, whose main purpose seemed to be abducting Dr. Jones, by jamming the door shut behind them and thus enabling Carson to spirit the older man away down one of the lesser-used passageways, Xander had likewise taken off by himself, in an effort to both stymie the would-be kidnappers and emulate his companions' escape.

Unfortunately, however, in the confusion and chaos following the confrontation (calling it a 'fight,' when compared to what happened every night in Sunnydale, was dignifying the conflict far too much, in his not so humble opinion; the hand-to-hand portion had gone well enough, but swords and guns were another kettle of fish, entirely), Xander had, true to form, somehow managed to end up being chased down a seemingly endless series of narrow passageways by several of their attackers, who had apparently taken personal affront at his efforts in frustrating their attempt to abduct Dr. Jones.

{ Maybe I shouldn't have kicked that guy in the nuts when we were fighting, } the currently fleeing expatriate Scooby reflected to himself as he ducked down yet another unlighted passageway in an ongoing effort to elude his pursuers. { His friends really seem to have taken things personally. }

And then *it* had happened. What it was, exactly, whichever one of the black hats responsible for activating the trap had done, would remain forever unknown, but Xander had quickly discovered that the net result was that all of his would-be assailants had been crushed and then buried beneath several tons of rock and sand, while also completely blocking Xander's only known escape route back to the outside world .

Considering that he was left with the rather unpleasant choice of either waiting where he was, and suffocating from eventual lack of oxygen when he used up all of the available air in the chamber, or to keep going along the only visible exit route he'd been able to find and possibly die from whatever other traps still remained, set and not yet triggered – Xander really hadn't spent a great deal of time contemplating his options.

{ After all, it's not like I really have all that much choice in the matter, } Xander sighed to himself as he considered his choices.

{ It’s either death by suffocation, starvation or – something which is much more likely – dehydration, or I can keep on heading down this passageway and hope I don’t set off any more traps poised to kill me. }

{ Fun, this most definitely *isn't*! } Xander had decided sourly, as he began picked up his flashlight and began moving further along the passageway which had been carved out of mammoth blocks of stone thousands of years previously, and which had remained unused for almost that entire period of time.

***

It was some indeterminate number of hours later, when Xander finally found himself entering what appeared to be some sort of throne room.

All he really knew by this point in time was that he was approaching the limits of his admittedly all-too-human form. He was exhausted from both the exertions of the initial 'battle' and his subsequent frantic efforts to evade the pair of robbers who had decided to chase him through the newly discovered labyrinth after he'd nutted their friend. The lack of both water and food to even partially stave off his growing fatigue, thirst and hunger wasn't making things any easier.

So, when he stumbled into the huge, multi-story room lit by dozens of brightly burning torches set in regularly spaced sconces approximately ten feet above the floor, it took Harris a moment or two to realize there was something off about the situation.

:: Greetings, young mortal, :: Xander 'heard' someone – or some *thing* – say inside his head an instant after entering the chamber. :: It has been an exceedingly long time since someone has sought me out in anticipation of finding and securing Teth-Adam's Amulet. ::

"Uh, what? Look, sorry to disappoint you, uhm, whoever you are," Xander announced as he shook his head in disagreement with the other's observation, "but I'm not here looking for anything, other than a way out of this place.

"No offense intended, of course," he added a moment later, trying to determine where, exactly, whoever it was who'd spoken to him might be situated.

"It's just that right now, I'm kinda trying not to die of thirst, starvation or suffocation, you see," he declared.

"And considering that I don't really have anything with me by way of supplies, if I don't find a way out of here relatively soon, those would seem to be the only options I'm going to end up with," Xander semi-babbled as he quickly but carefully checked out the massive, multi-storied room he'd found himself in.

:: Then you should know how securing Teth-Adam's Amulet would accomplish all of your stated intentions, and far, far more as well, young one, :: the still-unseen speaker informed the founding Scooby with what felt like more than a hint of amusement.

:: Tell me, mortal, how did you come here? :: Xander heard the mental presence ask.

"Uh, well, since I'm guessing you saw me stumble through that doorway back there, I'm guessing you really mean, why am I here," Xander answered, with a feeling of dissatisfaction as he was unable to locate where his interrogator might be hiding.

"Funny story, actually; I tagged along with my cousin Flynn when he offered me the chance to work for him on his upcoming archaeological dig, because it sounded like a lot more interesting way to spend the summer than just driving around to see all forty-eight states and ending up flat broke," the First Scooby continued his rather nebulous explanation of his presence.

"Not that I'm not interested in seeing the rest of the You Ess of Ay," he immediately clarified his previous sentence, not wanting to sound as though he were dismissing his homeland as not being of any interest. "It's just more that a chance to help study, excavate and analyze the remains of an ancient culture, like the ones Flynn and Dr. Jones are working on here, isn't something that comes along very often in your life.

"At least, not if you've got a life like mine, that is," Xander opined with a negligent shrug of his shoulders.

"Anyway, to make a long and kinda tedious story a whole lot shorter, some bad guys raided the excavation and tried to kidnap Dr. Jones, which isn't something that I was inclined to let happen, even if it were happening back home, 'cause that's not something we let happen, even on a Hellmouth," Harris continued his Willow-esque babbling, "and Flynn – he's my second cousin, and the one who invited me to come along on this trip, ya see, so I kinda have to watch out for him, too.

"Anyway, once Flynn got Dr. Jones safely out of the way, I managed to distract the bandits looking to kidnap them and I kinda led them down here, where one of the traps your guys who built this place set up caught them, and they got crushed flatter than what my wallet always ended up after taking my ex-girlfriend, Cordy, out on a date, and then I wandered in here, while I was trying to find a way back to our camp," Xander finally finished up his rather meandering and disjointed explanation for his appearance in the looming chamber.

:: Your mode of speech is somewhat strange. And this Hellmouth you mentioned, :: the voice said slowly. :: What exactly do you mean by that? ::

"It means exactly what it sounds like," Xander immediately answered. "It's the closest thing to a portal to Hell you can find on Earth.

"Uh, as far as you're concerned, it's probably more like a gate to the Netherworld, or the Realm of the Dead, if you're talking about how the Mesopotamian priests would describe it," he elaborated reflectively a moment later, drawing on the knowledge he'd acquired during the course of the past three years while helping the Scooby Gang research the various Big Bads looking to cause trouble. "The Egyptian priests would probably call it Duat.

"Although from what I understand about the demons they had down there in Duat, they weren't looking to invade the living world and use the population as a dinner buffet," Xander noted

:: Interesting. And what did you do at this Hellmouth? :: his unseen interrogator inquired.

"Eh, I helped the Buffster out however I could – she was the one who was keeping vampires from feeding on the townspeople and stopping the occasional demon from trying to open the Hellmouth and letting the Old Ones come back," Harris shrugged offhandedly.

:: The Old Ones? Ah, yes; I remember now who you are referring to. But who or what is this 'Buffster' you speak of? ::

"Well, her name is actually Buffy Summers. And her proper title is 'The Vampire Slayer'," Xander explained himself. "The one girl in all the world with 'the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness'," he paraphrased Giles' description of his hero.

"Actually, the spiel sounds a lot better if you have an English accent when you're telling it," he noted parenthetically. "Anyway, Buffy’s the one who protects people from the things that go bite in the night."

:: It sounds as though you are describing someone similar to Gilgamesh, :: the voice commented. :: A superhuman warrior demigod who battled monsters and protected his people from them. ::

"Huh. Yeah, I suppose Gilgamesh does sound a lot like the Buffster," Xander laughed.

"Although I'm pretty sure she wouldn’t appreciate being compared to a *guy*, no matter awesome he might be," he commented. "She's kinda big on girl power and being thought of as a modern woman and all that kind of stuff – thanks to being able to do some serious demon butt-kicking."

:: Again, interesting. So, if this champion you speak of is comparable to Gilgamesh, then it would seem that you should be compared to his beloved friend and companion, Enkidu, :: the voice suggested.

"Ah, no, sorry, but I gotta disagree with you on that one," Xander replied, not all that pleased at being compared to a wild man who had been raised by animals, and who was completely ignorant of human culture. Although he didn't think Buffy would be all that upset about it, considering the whole fray-adjacent mindset she seemed to have come up with over this past year where he was concerned.

"Anyway, we're getting away from the important stuff," Xander pointed out. "Which is an answer concerning the best way for me to get out of here and back to the surface, so I can get back to my camp."

:: If you are unable to return the same way you arrived here – and given everything I have heard so far, I suspect that you cannot – unfortunately, young one, the only way for you to return to your companions is by acquiring Teth-Adam's Amulet, :: Xander heard the voice say, and then he felt as though his stomach had dropped out of his body and hit the inlaid stone ground beneath his feet.

"So, uh, since you said 'unfortunately,' I'm guessing that getting the amulet isn't going to be all that easy, is it?" Xander said after a moment's consideration.

:: That depends upon how exactly you define ‘easy’, :: was the response he received, and Xander silently sighed to himself.

{ Yep, I knew this *definitely* wasn't going to be easy, } he told himself.

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