5 - Training and determination
Author Note: if anyone is actually reading this, could you review the story for me, just so i know i'm doing an alright job so far. i wont ask for reviews with every
When Xander got home he collapsed onto the floor, dropping the yellow folder carelessly as he clenched his hands tightly, trying to quell their shaking.
“I take it that you just ran into the head honcho.” Shinso spoke up, the swords voice echoing inside Xander's mind the moment he had come within range.
“You might say that.” Xander whispered shakily. “I went to City Hall to get a part time job there as planned. And ended up getting hired by the Man himself.”
Shinso whistled in awe. “Geez kid, I don't know whether you should fear that luck of yours or be thankful for it. How'd you hold up?”
The teen breathed out a shaky breath and clasped his hands together, trying to get them to stop shaking. “I did good. I have a trial run on Saturday as his assistant.”
“Well isn't that a good thing kid?”
Xander shakily rose to his feet and picket up the folder, walking over to the kitchen and setting it down on the counter, looking over to the zanpakuto with a fear in his eyes that seemed wrong. Out of place.
“I'm afraid. If I end up going through with this, I will never be able to go back. I know what must be done. But, I am afraid that no-one will understand.”
There was a swirl of displaced air and a small vortex of blue and white Rieatsu coalesced in the living room. When it cleared there was a carbon copy of Ichimaru Gin standing there, in his old Shinigami Captain's uniform, arms folded over his chest with his hands hidden in his sleeves.
“Did you know that the same things haunted Gin for years after he join the Gotei 13?” 'Gin' asked, his narrowed eyes opening to reveal two dark red pupils. “When he learned of my name he would visit me every week for nearly a full decade, asking me for help on what he should do. How he should proceed.”
Xander said nothing, merely sitting down as he looked at Shinso.
“I was never able to comfort him in the way he wanted. I wish I could do the same for you, but I can't. All I can give to you is the same advice I gave to him all those years ago.”
“What did you tell him?” Xander asked quietly.
Shinso sighed pulling a hand out form his sleeve to rub his forehead tiredly. “The Division Flower for the Third Division that Gin was Captain of, is the Merigold. It represents despair. Gin had the philosophy that all war is hell. It inspires fear, sadness and despair. The advice I gave him was simply a reminder of this philosophy.”
Xander nodded and sat himself down, running a hand through his hair again before looking back to the Zanpakuto Spirit. “I remember how it ended for him but there is one thing I still don't know about Gin. Did he regret it? At the end?”
Shinso shook his head and his mouth moved into a smile, a true smile that almost seemed foreign on his Gin face. “Not even for a second. Gin would have gladly repeated his choices again had he the chance.”
The teen nodded in understanding. “Thanks.”
Shinso shrugged as it faded away, returning it's consciousness back into Xander's soul. “Any time kid.”
A few hours passed by during which Xander flipped through the folder Richard Wilkins had given him when he heard the door open followed by the sound of a key being removed from the lock. Xander rubbed his eyes tiredly and blinked in surprise. Was it that late already?
He glanced at the microwave clock and noted that it was already half past four, and he had gotten home at least around eleven.
“You home boy-toy?”
Xander rolled his eyes at the nickname. He didn't think the instance would ever come that he would agree with Giles A.K.A 'G-man' about the annoyance of certain pet names. “In the kitchen spice-rack.”
Faith came swaying into the kitchen, an eyebrow cocked and looking very drool worthy in the tight leather pants she was wearing. “'Spice-rack'? Do I want to know?” she asked with a playful smirk.
Xander put down the folder and looked at Faith pointedly before lowering his gaze to her chest, making sure that she noticed the shift in focus. “hmm. Hot!”
Faith grinned wider and folded her arms across her chest, doing so in a manner that had her arms rest underneath her boobs and push them out. “What can I say, I'm just gifted.”
Xander nodded minutely. “Don't I know it.” he muttered quietly.
Faith hid another grin when she picked up the mutterings, Slayer hearing and all, and disappeared into her room to dump off her school things before coming back out. “So are you alright? You kind of pulled a Houdini back at the library there. B must have really pissed you off.”
Xander shrugged helplessly. “Not so much pissed me of as rather, annoyed me with her usual insensitivity. If Buffy has one key flaw it would be that she is the only one entitled to secrets, no-one else. The moment you try and keep something from her, even if it doesn't concern her, she get's all bent out of shape and goes all holier-than-thou.”
Faith nodded as she moved over to the fridge, looking through it before pulling out a Cola. “I picked up on that. Speaking of things that have nothing to do with B, I never did thank you for what you did last night. With the whole Kakistos thing and putting me up in your home.”
Xander waved a dismissive hand. “And you never will Faith.”
The teen stood up from the counter and walked into his room for a moment before reappearing in different clothes. A pair of slacks, his chest bare. “I didn't do it because I wanted your gratitude.” he fell down to the floor and started to do a set of push ups, ignorant to the stares Faith was giving his bare back as his muscles flexed. “I helped you because I wanted to. Nothing more.”
Faith nodded quietly. “But still...”
“'But still' nothing. Now if you want to be useful, can you sit on me?” Xander asked, turning his head to look at her with a grin. “you look like you weigh enough.”
Faith mock glared at him and stomped up to him and jumped on his back, making an effort to have him loose his focus and flop to the floor.
She heard him grunt from the added weight and felt him lower slightly before steadying, and before she knew it, he was continuing his push ups with her standing on him.
After a few minutes of standard push ups, Xander shifted to one handed as Faith shifted her footing with the new position.
“Alright this is a bit weird for me. You're not a Slayer, so how is it you are this strong with your build and as fast as I saw last night.” Faith finally asked before adding. “also last I checked, people couldn't stand on thin air. You some kind of hybrid demon/human?”
Xander grunted as he pushed himself up and shifted to his other arm. “So as I told you last night. Halloween, I was possessed by my costume. So I dressed up as a guy called Gin Ichimaru. He was a Reaper. Think Grim Reaper but without the whole pop culture shebang.”
“alright, so not the appearance, but Reaper as in taking souls and such?” Faith asked, looking down to the deliciously sweat covered back of the man she was standing on.
“More or less. A Shinigami, or Reaper's job is to help the dearly departed pass on to the after life and combat evil spirits. Generically called Hollows.” Xander explained. “The Shinigami have their own military in how they are organized. Thirteen divisions each lead by a Captain. The thirteen strongest Reapers in existance. Gin was Captain of Third Squad.”
Faith's eyes widened as she picked up the implications. “And if you kept this Gin guy's abilities? Woah! Just how much did you keep?”
Xander motioned for Faith to get off him and he stood up, looking at her intently. “All of them. I retained Gin's Reiatsu, which would be his spiritual energy. With it I can enhance my speed, strength and reaction time. In addition I can fly, or walk on air as you see it. See the dead, although in Sunnydale, who can't do that. Move at high speed which appears like teleportation. And I know a bit of Demon Magic.”
Faith cocked an eyebrow at this. “Demon's have magic?”
Xander frowned slightly at this, trying to find a way to properly explain it. “The magic that Reapers can use is called Demon Arts or Kido. No-one else who is not a Reaper or possesses enough Reiatsu is capable of performing a Kido.”
Faith pointed to the Zanpakuto behind her, refusing to tear her eyes away from the shiny chest and taught stomach in front of her. “And the sword? I'm thinking it's more than an ordinary knife.”
Xander chuckled when he felt Shinso's annoyance at being referred to as a kitchen utensil. “That is my Zanpakuto.” when he saw the lost expression on Faith's face he elaborated. “Think of it as a Reapers Scythe.”
Faith did tear her eyes away from Xander's tasty man flesh at this to stare at Shinso with wide eyes. “Sweet!”
Xander chuckled and nodded. “yeah, sweet.”
Faith turned away from the Zanpakuto and looked back at Xander, this time raising her head to make eye contact. “So, just how much of this Reiatsu or whatever do you have? Am I going to have to eventually park a car on you for your morning exercise?”
Xander grinned and cocked his head to the side. “Would you like me to demonstrate?”
Faith blinked and then gasped and her eyes widened as she felt a slight pressure cover her body, like some unseen force was lightly pushing down on her.
“When a Reaper brings their power to bear it feels a bit like this. The oppressive force bearing down on you like you've dived into the ocean.” Xander said, keeping his pressure build up light. “The more powerful the Reaper, the deeper you go into the ocean in terms of how you feel it.”
Faith looked at Xander with sheer awe as the pressure built even more until she could feel her legs shaking with the effort of just keeping her upright.
But, as quick as the pressure had come, it was gone.
“That was probably a third of my Reiatsu. If I brought all of it down on you, you'd probably have a seizure and collapse. The foaming at the mouth, eye rolling, twitching, it's kinda creepy to watch.”
Faith nodded with wide eyes. “remind me not to get you on my bad side then boy-toy.”
Xander grinned widely and raked his eyes over Faith's form. “Spice-rack, with a figure like that, I would have to be gay or dead to maintain a negative emotion with you.”
Faith grinned and stepped up to him, pressing her body up against his, enjoying the sensation of feeling his hard body. “awe, you sure know how to charm a girl don't you?”
Xander shrugged, his smile twitching into the 'Gin Grin'. “I try. Now then.” he paused and looked to the clock. 5:00. “Given that we committed blasphemy last night by going slaying without the Big Buff, you had better prepare yourself for a night of patrolling with the our favorite blonde slayer.”
Faith pouted as Xander stepped away from her and pulled a white shirt that had been sitting on the treadmill on. “Me? What about you? You're just as much a heretic as I am boy-toy.”
Xander laughed and wagged a finger at her. “but you forget. I am the 'helpless' and 'normal' Xander Harris.” he held a hand over his heart and made a dramatic sad face. “I could get hurt.”
Faith mock glared at the grinning boy and waited till he had turned to head to the bathroom, no doubt to shower before quickly shifting her glare to a hungry gleam in her eyes.
“I heard that!” Came Xander's laughing shout, much to Faith's embarrassment.
After she had recovered, Faith went back into her room to change into more 'slaying appropriate' attire while Xander was showering.
When she was dressed and armed with her new favorite dagger and a couple of well worn stakes, she paused to open her closet and look at the new clothing items that Xander had placed in there before she had unpacked.
There were two items. The first was a nice leather jacket that looked like it was made for hunting, just her style to, and the other, was a long, black dress. Plain looking and not exactly fitting in with her flirty tastes, but it didn't look half bad nonetheless.
When Faith heard the sound of the door to Xander's room opening she quickly grabbed the jacket and pulled it on, breathing in the smell of the leather for a second before walking out of the room.
When she saw her new roommate and what he was dressed in she paused.
Xander was wearing what looked like a set of black Japanese robes with straw sandals. Over the robes or whatever they were there was a white cloth sleeveless jacket hanging from his shoulders, the interior of the jacket a turquoise color.
“What's with the get up boy toy? Planning on having Halloween early this time around?”
Xander rolled his eyes and shook his head as he picked up Shinso and slipped it through the sash at his waist. “While you and the Big Buff have fun hunting vamps and gossiping, I'm heading out of town for the night. If anyone asks just say I had some things I needed to see to.”
“And the real reason you're leaving town for the night?” Faith arced an eyebrow.
Xander grinned. “just some training. Need the space.”
Faith nodded and waited until Xander had left the apartment to the balcony and vanished before locking the door. Then, after checking she had her things and making sure the front door was locked, she too vanished, off to suck up to the Senior Slayer.
“You know, technically you don't have to do this really.” Shinso pointed out as Xander stabbed the Zanpakuto into the desert floor, forcing the spirit to manifest, once more with Gin's appearance. “The requirements for it were all met during the possession.”
Xander nodded and turned to look at the Zanpakuto with a determined expression. “I know. But remember that Kurosaki kid. It's kind of like him. I don't want hand outs. Something like this, I have to earn. Plus, if I succeed then I will know for sure I can handle it.”
Shinso nodded. “Alright, but still. From the rumors Gin heard, it took that Kurosaki kid 48 hours straight to earn it. And that was with specialized equipment.”
the Spirit held out a hand and manifested three objects. An identical copy of his Zanpakuto form in one hand, two six-round revolvers in the other. “for Gin it was a small hand held crossbow, but I figure, different times and all that.” the Zanpakuto shrugged.
Xander nodded and picked Shinso's zanpakuto form up and caught the hand gun when Shinso tossed it to him. “Six rounds only?”
Shinso shook his head. “The weapon will create ammunition from your Rieatsu as you fire.”
The teen nodded and fixed his grip on it. “Alright then. Explain the terms of the test.”
Shinso nodded, a serious expression on his/Gin's face. “We will continue until sunrise. During this time you and I will do battle. The aim is to stop my movements completely.”
Xander nodded in understanding. He knew full well what Shinso meant. As a Shinigami, it was childs play to continue even when bones were broken and muscles torn. If he wanted to removes Shinso ability to move. He would have to do so violently. And given how powerful Shinso was, he would have to give it his all. And beyond.
“Can I still use Shikai?”
Shinso nodded. “It is permitted, but be warned. I can use it also.”
Xander nodded once more before readying his Zanpakuto with one hand, his other tightening on the grip of the revolver. “Shoot to kill...”
The following morning, thirteen hours of brutal 'training' for Xander, and the teen was in the shower, teeth clenched and forcing himself not to wince as the hot water washed over the many cuts and bullet grazes that covered his body. Thankfully Shinso was skilled enough to stop the bleeding of his deeper gashes, like the one on his neck that had nicked an artery (which was going to leave an awesome scar).
He was sure Faith was either asleep in her bed or still out killing off a few lingering vampires as the apartment had been both locked and quiet when he had come home.
Turning off the water, Xander carefully dried himself with a towel before throwing the now blood stained towel into the wash basket and wrapping another towel around his waist. He walked over to the vanity sink and pulled the mirror open to grab a few things from the shelves behind it. Some bandages, gauze and band-aids.
He had covered the cauterized gash on his neck and bandaged his sword arm (right) which had received more blows from Shinso's blade and was about to try and tend to his chest and back (Shinso had managed to move behind him at several points and try to shoot and impale him) when the door opened.
Xander froze like a deer in headlights, Hair dripping wet, bloody towel half hanging out from the wash basket and fresh blood slowly seeping out off the cuts and grazes on his back.
Faith blinked rapidly, apparently torn between two different things. He could recognize the conflicting emotions in her eyes through the frozen shock of having someone walk in on him that still held him. She was torn between a keen lust, no doubt since the only thing giving him some modesty was a towel, and horror, at the numerous cuts, scrapes and gashes covering his body.
“What. The. Fuck.”
Like a spell Xander moved and turned to face her, making her eyes widen further when she saw that his chest was further damaged, and a large purple bruise was blossoming on the right side of his chest, no doubt a couple of broken ribs. “Hey Faith, sleep well?”
The Slayer narrowed her eyes at the teen and stormed up to him, reaching up and grabbing his face, pushing his cheeks in and making his face turn fishy. “Don't you 'hey Faith' me boy toy. What the hell happened to you? And don't say 'training'.”
Xander looked away and scratched the back of his neck nerviously, wincing slightly when his ribs shifted. “Um...well, you see, the thing is. I...fell down a flight of stairs!” he finally managed to get out, looking quite proud of himself.
Faith didn't look impressed. “Stairs.”
Xander nodded. “yep, it was a really big set of stairs.”
Faith nodded slowly before renewing her glare fiercely. “You honestly think you can convince a Slayer that you got cut to ribbons by a flight of stairs?”
Xander winced. “No, I guess not.”
Faith nodded and stormed up to him and snatched away the bandages. “Good, now turn around and let me help.”
Xander stood there like a lifeless manikin while Faith tended to his cuts and scrapes, his mind having finally registered what was going on, and just how little Faith was wearing.
As it turned out, Faith preferred to sleep in nothing more than a shirt a few sizes too big. NOTHING else.
When she was done she grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him around, shaking her head when she saw the damage to his chest.
“It will heal.” Xander managed to say, painfully aware that the only thing protecting him right now was a towel. One towel in between the hottest woman to walk the earth? Dear god this towel must be vastly superior.
Faith merely scowled at Xander's comment, unrolling a bandage and wrapping it around his chest, binding it so that his broken ribs wouldn't shift too much so they could heal. “Boy toy, it's not every day some says they're going out to train and comes back looking like they went twenty rounds with a Big Bad.”
Xander winced as Faith pulled the bandage tighter around his chest. “I-it was necessary. It's a test.”
Faith looked up to Xander, her expression soft and concerned. Almost out of place given her fondness of leering and sultry facial cues. “Test?”
Xander nodded. “When a Reaper gets powerful enough he can attempt to take his strength to the next level, by fighting the spirit of his sword.”
Faith grabbed another bandage and continued to bind his chest. “the spirit of your, 'whatchamacallit'?”
“My Zanpakuto, Shinso. Yeah. By forcing him to come out I can take his challenge. In order to pass this test I must make him submit. To show that I am strong enough and worthy of the power.”
“I take it you didn't do so well?” Fatih guessed, stepping back from him as she finished.
Xander shrugged slowly, careful not to agitate his ribs. “for a proper Reaper it's supposed to take a full decade to achieve this. The quickest anyone has ever done it was in forty-eight hours, with outside help.” he shook his head. “I haven't succeeded yet. But Shinso is patient. He'll let me challenge him again tonight.”
At this Faith reached up and slapped him over the head, using enough force for the pseudo-reaper to momentarily see stars. “Are you an idiot! You could get killed.”
Xander shrugged. “I'm too stubborn for that, plus, if I died, I wouldn't be able to wake up to this every morning.” at this point he ran his eyes over Faith's current appearance, bringing the Slayer to the reality of things. That both of them were half naked in a bathroom. Playing doctor.
Faith managed to fight a full body blush and keep it to her face as she noticed and cocked her head to the side as she looked at Xander. “Well then. It's good to see I have such a positive effect on you boy toy.”
Xander groaned and stepped around Faith and quickly retreated from the bathroom, making sure she didn't try and swipe his towel away to reveal his 'little soldier' saluting. Dammit he was a healthy teen with the usual budding hormonal drive as any other, but why oh why did it have to be an equally hormonal and horny Slayer to notice?
“don't take too long boy toy!” she called out after him. “i might want to join you!”
two minutes later and Xander was fully dressed and making his way to the kitchen, counting his blessings when he heard Faith moving about in her own room.
He was wearing a pair of jeans and a long sleeve black shirt with a dark blue t-shirt over it. The only injury he was unable to conceal was the gash to his neck. A square of padding and surgical take doing more than enough to draw attention to it.
He would have to come up with an excuse for this later.
“Geez boy toy, would you like some hair gel and black nail polish? The long sleeves to cover the cuts. Sheesh.” Faith giggled as she came out of her room.
Xander waved a dismissive hand as he put on the kettle and made his rounds to gather his usual coffee hit. “Bit me Slayer.”
Faith was suddenly behind him breathing into his neck, making a soft moaning sound that sent a shiver down his spine. “Hmm. I just might boy toy.”
Xander shook his head. “Spice rack, not now please.” he stepped out of her reach and turned his head to look at her. And groaned again. She was wearing her usual skin tight jeans that may as well have been painted on and a dark brown spaghetti string halter top that exposed a perfect amount of cleavage. “Are you really trying to kill me? The last thing I need is more blood going away from vital areas.”
Faith smiled innocently. “Oh? I didn't think you would notice.”
Xander poured his coffee and made one for Faith before smirking. “I am neither dead nor gay spice rack.”
Faith's grin turned more predatory at this and she hugged her chest, pushing her breasts out a bit. “Are you sure?”
Inside Xander's head there was a mini Xander slapping himself repeatedly while a fountain of blood poured out of his head.
Exterior Xander merely nodded painfully. “Positive.” his eyes locked on the two globes of heaven.
Faith grinned in victory before removing her arms and snatching away his coffee. “good to know.”
Xander simply shook his head and took the coffee intended for Faith and drank it, moving over to sit down at the counter and flipping through a small pile of paperwork. “I still need to speak with Giles but I did call up the Undertaker before I came home yesterday. We can have a ceremony for Diana in a weeks time. The Undertaker is expecting your call on an exact date.”
Faith blinked. “My call? Why?”
“Before I spoke to the Undertaker I made a few calls. Diana Williams listed you as the sole recipient in her Last Will and Testament. Therefore all decisions concerning her burial are ultimately left up to you.”
“I-I was in her Will?” Faith said, her voice growing thick with emotion as she sat down next to Xander.
Xander nodded. “Yep. I'll contact her Lawyer after the funeral to arrange for the hearing of her Will.”
Faith nodded and stood up. When Xander felt something moist press against his cheek he stiffened and turned to see Faith's face moving away, having just kissed him apparently.
“Thank you Xander. For everything.”
Xander rolled his eyes. “Do I have to remind you that you-”
“-will never have to thank you, ever.” Faith interrupted, still smiling gratefully. “I know. But still, I am grateful.”
Xander grumbled and drained the last of his coffee before standing up. “Ruin my manly machoness and heroic splendor why don't you.”
Faith laughed and pressed up against the teen when he turned, reaching up and grabbing his face and pulling him down for a scorching kiss.
When she pulled away, breathing a bit heavier from the sheer passion of the kiss, she smiled up to the wide glazed over eyes of Xander Harris. “But isn't this better?”
Xander's eyes cleared and his mouth stretched into a wide smile. “I guess it will have to do, for now.”
Faith laughed under her breath as Xander picked up his school bag and shouldered it before turning to her and offering an arm as he pulled open the balcony door. “Shall we Spice-rack?”
Faith nodded and joined her arm with hers nodding in a very noble and pompous manner. “Make it so number one.”
Xander closed the door behind him and shook his head with amusement silently enjoying the squeal that came from the Slayer as he pulled her with him in a Shunpo, making the quick journey to school.
When he landed at his usual arrival spot with Faith at his side he removed his arm and placed a hand on the pale Slayers back and guided her around the bus and towards the school. “If you need to vomit I would advise you wait until you get to a bathroom or something.”
the woman merely glared at him and grabbed his right arm, tightening her grip on it slightly, making the teen wince when he felt his injuries shift painfully from the pressure.
“Alright, alright. Mercy, I give up. No taunting the Slayer! Check!” Xander whined, leaning down as if she had him by the ear.
Faith nodded victoriously and released his arm, to which Xander brought it close to him, rubbing the arm carefully. “Remember that the next time you think you can mock a Slayer.” she crowed, her nausea at the accelerated movement (shunpo) completely forgotten.
A few minutes later, when Xander had stored his things away in his school locker and managed to dump Fatih onto a satisfied Buffy, apparently last nights patrolling had gone well, Xander made his way to the library, eager to speak with Giles concerning Diana's funerary rights.
Giles had done well and had spoken to the Watcher's Council to speak to them of Diana's death at the hands of Kakistos.
Apparently, in light of the manner of Diana's death, tortured and killed protecting her charge, The Watcher's Council was awarding Diana The Victoria Cross. An medal given to those who show bravery far beyond the call of duty and acts of valor and self-sacrifice. In addition, Diana's name was being added to the Council's Hall of Honor. A room within Buckingham Palace where all heroes who had perished fighting the darkness were remembered.
While he doubted Faith would care at all about the postmortem honors, Xander knew that on some level Faith would be satisfied, knowing that her Watcher's sacrifice would be remembered.
When Xander was done, he moved through the day almost in a trance, going through his classes and doing what needed to be done. During the lunch break he met up with the Scooby's but made a point to avoid Buffy, still sour from what she had said yesterday, something that the others noticed, especially Buffy herself when she found that Xander would seem to emulate Oz with his one word responses whenever she spoke to him.
At the end of the day, when all the students were in the midst of their mad rush to escape the part time prison that was high school, Buffy was looking for Xander, planning on cornering him and demanding answers as to why he was being so distant to her.
As the crowd thinned within the school's halls she saw a glimpse of her blue eyed friend moving through the crowd and moved to follow, shouldering her own bag as she pushed through the remaining students.
As the crowds thinned and Buffy shadowed Xander, not even pausing to ask herself why she was stalking her friend as if he were a vampire, the Slayer noticed the raven haired teen making for Snyder's office. Willingly at that.
When Xander walked into the office, the door closing behind him, Buffy crept up and stood just out of sight, listening in and wondering; What was Xander doing?
Xander closed the door behind him sharply, drawing the attention to Snyder, who had been occupying himself by glowering out the window at the departing students. It was odd that someone who despised everything about children, was the principal of a high school.
Snyder spun around at the sudden sound of his door being slammed shut. “What?-Harris!? What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be busy planning on your next criminal act with your delinquent friend Summers?”
Xander smoothed his features before narrowing his eyes and staring at the principal, concentrating a small portion of Reiatsu to them so that his eyes glowed in the dim light. “Sit.”
Snyder paled at the fearsome look in the young man's eyes, the cold, empty and pitiless feeling he felt from them making his legs quiver with fear as he quickly found his chair and sunk into it. Appearing quite small in his suddenly very large office chair.
Once he was seated Xander stepped up to the desk and looked down to the diminutive troll. “W-what do y-you want Harris?”
Xander looked at the man in silence for a moment before speaking. “You were assigned this position by the Mayor of Sunnydale correct?”
Snyder nodded quickly, too afraid to question how Xander had come across this knowledge.
Xander nodded. When he had gone through the school's records, which were surprisingly easy to access he had found the connection between the two. “What were you ordered to do beyond regular principal duties?”
“I-I can't tell you. T-the Mayor h-he would...”
Xander held up a hand. “yes, yes I know. But as I am in the employ of the Mayor you need not fear reprisal. All you simply need do is answer my questions and supply me with whatever I wish, within the limits of possibility of course.”
Snyder nodded, relaxing slightly at this. If Harris was working for the Mayor as well than he needn't fear any acts of aggression from the obviously dangerous teen. “O-of course. I was instructed to ensure the Summers girl be hindered in any way while at school. Also to report to him of any suspicious activity that Summers may be participating in. beyond the usual delinquent behavior of course.”
Xander nodded, allowing his Reiatsu to diminish slightly so the principal could breath easier, a silent way of assuring the troll he was performing as desired. “Very good. Now Snyder, what is your first name by the way?”
“Charles.” Snyder answered, breathing easier as he felt some of the fear diminish.
“Do you mind if I call you Charlie?”
Snyder nodded, wondering what else this child, who was apparently under the employ of the Mayor wanted.
“Alright Charlie, now while I would never say this in front of witnesses, you are not an idiot. I know it, you know it. What I want from you is not in any official and professional capacity but merely assistance.”
“I don't understand.” Charles Snyder scratched his head in confusion.
“I have only recently entered Mr. Wilkins employ and while I look forward to my future career, I am not a moron, I know full well the advantage that comes with information. And given your extended relationship with him, I believe that you would have something on the Mayor or at least have in your possession some information concerning him, in order to protect your career should the need arise.”
Snyder nodded. “I don't have the information in the sense that I collected it myself. My predecessor had a file on the Mayor, I haven't gone through it yet.”
Xander blinked at this. “Mr. Flutie was working for the Mayor?”
Snyder nodded. “Correct. While it would be disrespectful to say that his death was a benefit, but when I was hired, I learned that my current orders are vastly different to Mr. Flutie's.”
Xander motioned for the man to continue. “Explain.”
“The standing orders of the former principal were to leave the school unlocked at all times and instigate a complete ban of several items, such as religious icons, silver jewelry as well as change the biology class's syllabus so that several herbs such as wolfsbane would never be used.” Snyder frowned. “It would seem that Flutie and the Mayor shared an aversion to many superstitions at that time.”
Xander nodded, concealing his slight anger completely at this. Flutie had been ordered by the Mayor to allow the school to be completely vulnerable to any number of supernatural creatures. Very bad considering the mouth to Hell was located inside the school's Library.
Snyder stood up and walked over to a filing cabinet and pulled out an old mustard yellow folder filled with an assortment of papers some looking relatively new while others looked very old. “I don't share the same paranoia as my predecessor so you may take the original Harris. I would however, insist on one thing.”
Xander took the folder and stuffed it into his bag, looking at Snyder patiently. “Yes?”
“Until the Mayor orders otherwise, I will treat you the same as always outside of this office. Understood. I cannot and will not divert from my orders in this.”
Xander nodded, preferring it this way. It would hide his plans from the Scoobies longer if everything remained the same. “Understood. Of course you will understand if the treatment is reciprocated Charlie. Outside of this office, I will behave as any other student towards you, the authority figure.”
Snyder grinned at that and laughed. “to think I am supporting juvenile behavior, yes I am aware Harris. Now, is that all?”
Xander nodded, pulling his Reaitsu back completely. “for now.”
With that, Xander shouldered his back, making sure it was zipped up properly and left the office, hearing Snyder pass out and fall to the ground as the exhaustion of staying conscious took hold.
Xander frowned slightly at that. It reminded him another task he had to perform.
When he closed the door behind him he blinked and looked down in surprise.
“Hello there.” he muttered as he crouched down and picked up the item he had seen by the door. It was a purse.
When he opened it he smiled softly before stuffing it into his pocket and leaving the school.
Buffy Anne Summers.
When Xander arrived home he was surprised to see not only Faith in the kitchen, given the time she should have been getting ready for another night of killing (*ahem* 'patrolling'), but Buffy sitting at the bench with a drink of her own.
“Geez Boy-toy, what took you so long? You decide to stop off at L.A for a snack or something?” Faith called out when she heard the teen approach.
“Well they do have a really nice diner that sells a perfect coffee Spice-rack.” Xander smirked. “So, I always thought I would have to pay a fair bit of money for this kind of company, so what's going on?”
Faith snickered while Buffy blushed at the implications before the Blonde shook herself free of the thoughts and looked to Xander.
“I thought you might want to come with us tonight.” Buffy said, placing her cup onto the bench. “Willow and Oz are going on a date tonight and I thought you might want to be included in something and not spend the night alone.”
Xander tossed his bag into his room, noticing out of the corner of his eye that Buffy followed the bags trajectory. So she HAD been listening in on his talk with Snyder. Good. “Oh Buffy, that reminds me, it's good that you're here.” he reached into his pocket and pulled out her purse. “Lose this?”
Buffy's eyes widened with a sliver of fear at the sight of her purse, no doubt worried that she had been caught out in eavesdropping.
“I found it in the hallway on my way out of school.” Xander said, tossing it to her. “you must have dropped it on your way out.”
Buffy breathed out a sigh of relief as she took the purse, no doubt relieved that Xander had found it not where she had eavesdropped on him, but by the school entrance.
“So how 'bout it boy toy? You up for a threesome with two hot tight Slayers?”
Xander groaned quietly and raised an eyebrow to the eager expression on Faith's face and the heavy blush on Buffy's. “sadly and painfully I must decline Spice-rack. I'm beat. Slayer stamina I do not have. Need sleep.”
Faith grinned wider. “Want some company?”
Xander paused as if considering the option before shrugging. “Perhaps later Slayer. You go have fun playing maid with the vampires with Buffy.”
Faith cocked an eyebrow. “A maid outfit. Hmm, kinky.”
Xander groaned painfully, cursing himself for unconsciously giving the Dark Slayer further encouragement. “Alright, that's it. I'm sleeping. Faith, Buffy, go dust something!”
with that Xander walked into his room and closed the door behind him.
As soon as Buffy heard the door close she breathed out a sigh and slumped forward, ignoring the strange look Faith sent her. She couldn't explain why she felt like this. Xander was one of her best friends and had literally put his life on the line to help her more than once. So why was it that she was starting to grow concerned about him. And what was that about with him threatening Snyder?
“You alright there B?”
Buffy straightened, hiding her startlement, apparently Faith had caught her on edge nerves concerning her Xander-shaped friend. “No, I'm fine. Just slay hungry.”
Faith grinned widely and skipped over to the senior Slayer. “I knew you'd come around B. come, let me show you the wonders and joys of vamp dusting and just how fun it really is.”
a few minutes later and the front door slammed shut as Faith led Buffy off, still skipping to check in with Giles before going out to party (kill monsters).
A second later and Xander re-emerged from his room wearing a pair of training slacks, his chest bare bar the bandages covering him.
He frowned as he walked over to retrieve Shinso and then to the kitchen to have a quick bite to eat. Buffy had caught on to his strange behavior sooner than he had expected. No doubt she had managed to hear most, if not all of the conversation between himself and Snyder. Nothing overt had been discussed, so there was still time to prepare things without her interference. But, when the time came, it would all fit into place.
Seven hours later.
Xander bit back a scream of agony as he pushed the stapler against the deep laceration to his side, sending the metal staple into his flesh. A moment to breath and he bit back another scream as he repeated the process, stapling the gash shut to pull the flesh together so he could heal.
He barely managed to insert the final staple before the piece of office equipment fell to the bathroom floor, his shaky, weak hands unable to hold it any further.
The bathroom in which he stood was a mess. Worse than the previous time where he had only subjected the room to basic bandaging and a shower. This time blood was pooling on the floor from the deep laceration to his left side and the stab wound to his right shoulder. A stab wound that had an identical mark on the back to indicate the exiting of the blade that had impaled him.
Shinso had not held back this time. The Zanpakuto had armed Xander much like the previous night, but the spirit itself had simply used its own replica, to deadly efficiency.
The only reason Xander was home now rather than continuing to fight and bleed out in the desert, was because he had done it. Succeeded in a meager manner of twenty hours. Take that Kurosaki!
His vision wavered as the blood loss started to take him and he felt his legs finally start to buckle as he felt himself begin to lower itself to the floor, the last of his strength and focus resting on getting him to ground level as carefully and painlessly as possible.
The last thing he did, before welcoming the sweet painless abyss of unconsciousness, was to hastily scrawl a note on the wall next to him using his own blood.
When Xander next opened his eyes he sat himself up and scratched his head idly. The scenery was different. He wasn't in his bathroom, nor was he at home or in a hospital ward. Instead, his current location was a giant warehouse. So large the only limit to its size that could be seen was the ceiling.
“geez kid. You really wanted it didn't you? I thought you really were going to die for a moment there.” Shinso's voice called out.
Xander rose to his feet and turned around seeing the carbon copy of Gin sitting on a military grade crate.
As he turned to face the Zanpakuto fully the rest of the warehouse around him started to change, where there was before nothing but an endless empty expanse, crates and boxes began to appear. Some forming large piles others arranging themselves into neat rows and stacks.
But the common point between each and every box, was the military look about them.
“What's with the boxes?” Xander asked, returning his eyes to look at the Spirit.
Shinso scratched its neck lazily. “Well with you succeeding and passing my little test, your mind is rearranging itself. The test comes with more than an additional power boost kid, it gives you a mental clarity. Now don't think that from now on you've got an eidetic memory or something. Your still a 17 year old bumpkin.” Shinso grinned widely when Xander rolled his eyes at this. “it will just be, easier to think is all. And I guess you might find some Kido easier to use now that you've got the necessary mental focus.”
Xander shrugged, far enough. “I take it that you're not going to help me with the not dying part right? Cause unless i'm not mistaken, I am still passed out on the bathroom floor in a pool of blood.”
Shinso shrugged. “Take it as an additional part of the test. Like extra credit!”
Xander groaned and nodded reluctantly as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. “alright then. Well, moving on, provided I don't die tonight from extreme blood loss, thanks for that by the way, how do you think i'm doing so far with my little, endeavor?”
Shinso frowned, rubbing his chin in thought. “Well, getting some dirt on the Mayor before even starting was good, it's always nice to have something to use for an escape plan. Your small blonde haired friend is starting to get a hint of something different but for the most part blissfully unaware. And, you've managed to get your foot in the door with the Mayor's good graces. You're not off to a bad start kid.”
Xander breathed out a calming sigh, relieved that he was doing alright, at least by Shinso's estimation.
“So then, am I stuck in my head with you until I wake up?” Xander asked with a cheeky smirk.
When Faith came home that night from one of the most boring patrols ever, not a single vamp, the Dark Slayer had in mind nothing more than a long soak in a bath followed by some shameless flirting and teasing with the Man-meat that was asleep in the other room.
Instead of these simple things however, plans apparently had already been prepared for her.
The instant the door opened, Faith froze, her eyes widening in a desperate and unknown fear when her senses instantly picked up the thick aroma of blood.
Lots of blood.
Faith almost collapsed at the smell, knowing deep down inside that it wasn't blood from a hapless intruder. “No.”
with that whispered cry of fearful denial, Faith took off down the hall to the living room and all but kicked in the door to the bathroom. When her eyes met the sight within she did collapse to the ground this time.
The bathroom looked like a slaughterhouse, blood covered the vanity sink and mirror as well as the side of the bath, bloody hand prints marked the walls where the source of her fear had placed his hands to keep himself upright. And on the floor, in a large pool of his own blood, was a half naked beat up Xander Harris.
It was only due to her eyes desperately searching for any sign of life that she made out the extent of his injuries. A deep wound to his side that appeared to have been hastily clamped shut by staples of all things, a stab would to his shoulder that was slowly seeping blood and a series of small round bruises and welts around the size of her fingertip. She gasped when she recognized those. Bullet shots.
She was about to rush off to find a phone and call for an ambulance when she faltered, her eyes catching on a pattern of blood.
Faith didn't know why she heeded the message, but when she snatched the phone from its cradle, she dialed the first number she could think of that was not '911'. Giles.
[Hello? This is Rupert Giles speaking.] a tired voice half groaned, indicating that the Watcher had been asleep when the phone rang.
“Giles it's Faith I need your help!” the woman said quickly trying to keep her voice empty of the horrible grief and fear that was making her shake.
[Faith? What is it? Did something happen on patrol? Is Buffy hurt?] Giles was completely awake now, no doubt running through a half dozen worst case scenarios in his head.
“It's not B Giles. I-I'm at home. It-it's Alex. He-he's hurt.” She said shakily, fighting the tears that were now brimming at her eyes. “Please. Help.”
there was the sound of a lot of movement from Giles' end of the phone connection before the Watcher answered. [Alright I am on my way, but I need you to answer some questions while you can alright Faith?]
Faith nodded, feeling her legs going weak once more. “O-okay.”
[What has happened?]
“I-I don't know. I came home and I could smell blood, lot's of blood.” Faith replied. “I found Alex in the bathroom. H-he...there's so much blood. He-he's not moving Giles.”
there was the sound of a door being slammed shut as Giles left his home and most likely made his way to his car. [Alright, I am on my way, one last question for now Faith. Why haven't you called emergency services?]
“Alex, he, he left a message. No hospitals.”
[Alright, I'll be there shortly, I'm going to hang up now Faith, I want you to go back into the bathroom and make sure that he's still breathing.]
Faith nodded and didn't even wait for Giles to hang up, she simply dropped the phone and ran back to the bathroom.
When she entered a fresh wave of horror flooded her as she looked down to the unmoving form of the only other person to care about her. Ignoring the blood that was in the way, Faith quickly moved down to the floor and gingerly wrapped her arms around him, making sure he was still breathing and alive while doing everything she could to convince herself that everything would be alright.
When Giles would arrive, he would be greeted with the sight of a tearful distraught Slayer embracing the still unmoving Xander, not even aware that she was covered in his blood.