Disclaimer: BtVS is owned by Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. I can only claim ideas that come from sleep deprivation and overdosing on caffeine and nicotine.
56B White Oak Drive, Sunnydale
With a sigh Rupert Giles stepped into his apartment and dropped his suitcase on the floor. Another wasted trip and still no sign of Buffy. A week ago he’d heard a rumour of a young girl with greater than normal strength being arrested by the police up in Seattle. He’d immediately travelled north hoping that he would find his Slayer and hopefully bring her home.
Unfortunately the girl in question had turned out to be a thirty year old prostitute with a meth-amphetamine habit who had attacked a police officer with a broken bottle. The only thing that the hooker and Buffy had in common was that they were both blonde and on the short side.
He knew that he should contact Joyce and let her know that there was still no sign of her daughter but in the end he decided to wait until the sun rose. He saw no point in waking the woman just to tell her that he had no news. Giles knew that Mrs Summers was suffering with Buffy missing, she had admitted to Giles that the night that Buffy had faced Angelus with the survival of the world at stake mother and daughter had argued which ended with an ultimatum from the Summers Matriarch. That if Buffy walked away from her she would no longer be welcome in her home!
Sighing again Giles idly wondered if things would have been different if Joyce had known exactly what her daughter did at night. With a snort he shook his head, he might as well wish that Angel had been a short, overweight, balding man with a hair lip, someone Buffy wouldn’t have looked twice at instead of the tall, darkly handsome individual who had stolen the Slayer’s heart and whose love had caused him to lose his soul.
But Buffy was not the only one who was missing. Xander Harris, the young man who, when he found out the truth about the world, had decided that the Slayer should not have to fight alone, had disappeared into the night barely weeks after Buffy had left town. To be honest Giles would not have even noticed that he was missing if it wasn’t for Joyce mentioning that Xander hadn’t stopped by to do odd jobs around the house on Rovello Drive and just to make sure that she was all right.
Walking over to his drinks cabinet Giles was just about to reach for the bottle of Scotch when he realised that he wasn’t alone in the apartment.
He quickly turned, hand reaching for the loaded crossbow he kept for emergencies when he saw who it was and his jaw dropped in surprise.
“Xander?” He said in disbelief.
Sitting in one of Giles overstuffed armchairs an emaciated figure with a shock of dark hair and skin pale enough to be mistaken for a vampire looked up from the crucifix he was holding and gave the Englishman a wan smile.
“Hey Giles, it’s been a while hasn’t it?” Xander Harris said quietly.
Giles, who had been stunned to see the missing teenager sitting in his apartment, had let the crossbow drop slightly. Shaking his head to clear it he brought the weapon up so it was aiming directly at the boy’s heart.
“Don’t move vampire!” Giles ordered. He might not have been here to protect the boy from the creatures of the night but the very least he could do was ensure that no demon would be able to walk the Earth and kill at will wearing the visage of his Slayer’s friend.
The vampire in question just looked at the Watcher whose crossbow bolt would pierce his heart if he squeezed the trigger and sighed.
“Giles I’m not a vampire.” He said. “Surely a Watcher of your experience would have noticed that, A; I’m holding one of the blessed crosses that you own, B; I entered your apartment without invitation and C; if you grab the mirror in your hallway you would see that I have a reflection.”
Giles blinked at the calm proofs that Xander had offered and realised that he was right, no vampire could handle a blessed icon without flinch or enter a home without invitation. Putting down the crossbow, making sure that the safety was still engaged he sagged into another armchair opposite him.
“Xander! What happened to you? Where have you been?” He asked.
“That, O G-Man the Wise is quite a story.” Xander quipped and for Giles that was another confirmation that this was truly Alexander Harris sitting across from him.
Taking a deep breath Xander began telling Giles what had happened to him during the last few months. “It all started a couple of weeks after Buffy left. I was walking home after making sure that Mrs Summers was Okay.”
Maggie Walsh entered her office to find Major Craig Shannon, head of the military contingent and Doctor David Angelman waiting for her.
“Well what do you have for me?” She asked as she took a seat behind her desk. “How was a valuable research subject able to walk out of her without security stopping or even asking who he was?”
It was Major Shannon who answered first. “Director after reviewing the security footage it seems that the fugitive was able to get his hands on the pass card of one of the medical orderlies. With that he was able to, as you say, walk out of the facility with the rest of the staff when the fire alarm was triggered.” He paused. “I’ve already sent the sweep teams to conduct a search of the immediate area. If he’s within a mile of here we’ll find him.”
“In that case Major I’ll let you get back to co-ordinating the search.” Walsh said in an even tone though she wanted to scream and curse at this moron who couldn’t stop a teenage boy escaping from a supposedly secure facility.
Nodding Major Shannon got to his feet and left the office. Once they were alone Maggie turned to Doctor Angelman.
“So do we have any idea how someone, who has been in a coma for nearly three months was able to wake up, overpower an orderly then walk out without anyone noticing?” She asked.
Angelman pulled a printout from the folder in front of him. “As to how or why he was able to wake up, your guess is as good as mine. But according to the ECG there was a huge surge in brain activity roughly a minute before he woke up.”
Maggie looked at the printout and frowned. It looked as though there were three distinct personalities in Subject 52’s mind for nearly thirty seconds before it settled into a single persona.
“Is this even possible?”
“Perhaps if the individual was suffering from an advanced case of multiple personality disorder, but from his medical records there was no indication of that. I was also able to check the dialysis machine before I came here.” He handed over another printout. “As you can see just before he disconnected himself his body was producing a huge amount of adrenalin and endorphins.”
As Walsh looked at the records Angelman took a deep breath.
“Maggie we could be in serious trouble. If it comes to light that we had a civilian locked up for nearly three months while medical experiments were conducted on him without his or his parent’s consent.” He paused. “Well I don’t know about you but I couldn’t handle life in prison. And all it will take is him getting in touch with the police or worse, the media.”
Maggie just glared at him. “Grow a spine David, the only person that has to worry about incarceration is Shannon.” She saw the stunned look on David’s face and explained. “I’ve already filed a preliminary report about the incident and I’ve recommended that Major Shannon be temporarily relieved of his position while a full inquiry is conducted.” She paused. “Of course during the inquiry information will come to light concerning Shannon’s criminal negligence in regards to the performance of his duties as well as misappropriation of government funds. By the time it is over Shannon will be gone and I will be in charge of this project.”
“As for Subject 52, unless he has the constitution of a horse which I doubt since he has been on a liquid diet for nearly three months, the amount of adrenalin and other hormones in his system his body will have suffered a complete shutdown within an hour. If the Sweep Teams find the body well and good, will dispose of it. If not, well Alexander Harris was declared missing by his parents, his disappearance will just be another statistic.”
David nodded, realising the truth in Director Walsh’s statement. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that the entire ‘Subject 52 Project’ would one day come back to haunt them.
56B White Oak Drive, Sunnydale
Giles sat there stunned as Xander finished his story.
“So after I got out of there I swung by my parent’s place to grab my stash and came here.” Xander said.
Getting to his feet Giles crossed to his liquor cabinet and poured himself a drink. Normally when he indulged he preferred single malt Scotch with no more than three ice cubes but tonight he half filled the glass and downed it in one gulp. Shuddering as he felt the burn go down his gullet he looked at the bottle but decided one drink was enough. He would need a clear head.
Secret government projects, a teenage boy incarcerated because of his blood chemistry and the only reason that Xander had been able to escape was that he had merged with the remnants of the two previous possessions and he now had the strength of the Primal Hyena and the skills of hardened combat veteran. Giles shuddered as he tried to imagine what Xander had endured to make the merging a viable option. He just prayed that Xander would be able to keep his sense of self under those conditions.
Putting down the empty glass he turned back to Xander. “What are your plans now?”
“Getting out of town for starters Giles.” Xander said, getting to his feet. “By now they would have realised that I’ve escaped and they’ll be looking for me.”
“There’s no need for you to go. I’m happy to have you stay here.” Giles offered, hoping that the boy would accept it.
Xander shook his head. “I can’t take that chance Giles. I don’t think those ‘Men in Black’ would be willing to let bygones be bygones. And if they find out what Buffy is, well what they did to me would be a picnic to what they’d try to do to a Slayer.”
Giles nodded in understanding. Several times in the past various governments had tried to get their hands on the Slayer. During the Second World War Hitler had an entire department of the Gestapo whose only mission was to track down and capture a Slayer. Fortunately they’d never succeeded though hundreds of teenage girls had died as the Nazi’s tried to force the Slayer Spirit to go to a girl of their choosing.
“What do you want me to tell the girls?” He asked.
For a moment Xander stopped and Giles saw the anguish on his face. “Tell them that I died or something. I don’t want them trying to track me down. After a few months they’ll probably forget about me and they can get on with their lives. But it might be a good idea to warn Buffy to stay away from any commando types.”
The Watcher was about to argue, that no matter what Xander’s friends would never forget him but he realised that Xander was right. If Buffy or Willow or even Cordelia for that matter thought that Xander was still alive they’d move heaven and earth to find him. And if this Initiative was still searching for him they just might decide to add a Slayer, a hacker and a socialite to their capture list. If for no other reason to coerce Xander to give himself up.
“Very well Xander, if you feel you must then you had best get going. Do you need anything? Money perhaps?”
Xander smiled at the Watcher. “No need Giles you’ve done enough and I’ve got my ‘Road Trip’ fund so I’m good.” He paused and looked slightly embarrassed. “While I was waiting I helped myself to your fridge and pantry, sorry.” The merger of himself, the Hyena and the Soldier combined with nearly three months being fed through a tube meant that he really needed to eat.
Xander walked to the door. He paused with his hand on the door knob. “Giles in case I don’t get the chance I just want to say that I’m glad to have met you. Take care of my girls, maybe one day I’ll be able to come home.”
With that he opened the door and disappeared into the night leaving the Watcher alone in his apartment.
“Good luck Xander.” Giles whispered and made a decision. He would contact the Council as soon as he could. Maybe they wouldn’t be able to do anything about the Initiative but perhaps they could offer the young man sanctuary.
Walking over to his desk he pulled out a sheet of paper and began to write his report and hoped that the Council would put aside its usual bias against those who were not fortunate enough to be born in Great Britain and help someone in need.