Neither Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the Paladin of the Shadows series belong to me, but to Joss and John respectively. I'm just playing.
Okay, it's a little short, but I think it has some promise. Let me know what you think.
Note: BtVS timeline adjusted to match crossover.
Xander lay back on his bed and stared at the ceiling. Country music droned on in the background, but the Music of Pain simply didn’t have the same effect it had before the night before. Before Halloween. His mind was haunted by a dozen bloody battles, friends and comrades dead, dying or worse.
Of blond hair, and a gentle smile.
Was it really fair that he grieved for a woman that he hadn’t really met?
He had thought that the fatigues he had acquired from the disposal store were just surplus, but apparently they had belonged to a real soldier once. Sailor, rather. A former SEAL instructor. And now Xander remembered his life.
His musings were interrupted by the trilling of the phone. God, Willow, what is it now?
While Xander loved the redhead - the only person to ever call his extension - he really wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone, even her.
Resignedly, he reached over and lifted the receiver from the cradle. “’lo?” he groaned.
Xander sat up. He knew that voice as well as he knew his own. Working his jaw for a moment, he hydrated his suddenly dry mouth. “Kildar,” he returned, trying to match the other man’s tone. Holy crap! He’s REAL!
“Just Mike’ll do, kid. After last night … hell, I wasn’t even sure any of this was real until you picked up the damn phone! Yesterday I just fell into a dammed coma for three hours! Scared the shit outa’ ‘Stasia - took me this long just to calm her down.”
Xander nodded. “Wake up calls can be painful.”
They sat in silence, the hiss of the long-distance line filling the quiet. Then Mike continued. “What can I do?”
Xander hesitated. When a multi-millionaire with his own private army and a nuke in his basement offered his help, it gave him pause. What can Mike do? You can’t call an air-strike on the Mouth of Hell, for crying out loud!
Then he smiled. “How about a few bottles of Mother Lenka’s brew?”
The man who traded favours with Presidents was flabbergasted for a moment, then burst into laughter. “Shit, kid, I’ll make it a whole damned case!” Then he sobered. “Seriously, man, the things you and your friends do, most of the teams wouldn’t do, and you’re doing it for nothing. If there’s anything - anything - I can do to help, just gimme a call.” A sly edge entered his voice. “How about I send Cottontail down there for a holiday?”
Xander yelped and almost dropped the phone. “Hell no! Fuck, Mike, I’ve already had the Inca Mummy Girl and Preying Mantis Lady try to kill me! I do not
need Lady Deathstrike visiting the Hellmouth! I mean, what if she meets up with Cordelia - and they bond?”
Mike sniggered. “Damn, kid, Cordy’s not that bad. I’ve met worse.”
Xander snorted. “You’ve married worse.”
*** *** ***
Michael ‘Ghost’ Harmon, AKA ‘Mike Jenkins’, AKA The Kildar, lowered the sat phone from his ear and frowned. Leaning forwards onto the stone balcony, he looked out over the Valley of the Keldara as he contemplated the situation. Suddenly it seems like the world was simpler yesterday - even my world.
He wasn’t really surprised when a pair of slender arms slid around his chest from behind - very few people were able to sneak up on the ex-SEAL. “Michael? Are you alright?” Anastasia Rakovich, his harem manager, generally accepted life partner and occasional masochistic sex-slave murmured softly against his shoulder as she leant into him.
“Fine, Stasia,” he said back, lifting one of her hands to brush against his lips. “Just thinking about how the world is going to hell.” And maybe not figuratively.
The tall blond chuckled softly. “A little less than before you ‘bought the farm,’ perhaps,” she joked.
Mike smiled and turned about in her arms, wrapping her into his own embrace. “Maybe so.” Then his eyes narrowed. Just because Xander doesn’t say he wants help, doesn’t mean he doesn’t need it - or couldn’t use it.
Having the kid’s memory downloaded into his skull had left him with a few possible nightmares, a lot of worries, and the impression that Xander’s pride wouldn’t let him ask for help, except in an emergency. Day to day, he’d rather just slog through.
Placing a kiss on Anastasia’s forehead, he extricated himself from her arms and crossed the room to his desk. Picking up the phone there, he punched a well-practiced code. Within a moment, a voice came from the other end. “Intel Center, this is Greznya, how may I help you, sir or ma‘am?”
“Grez, it’s the Kildar. Warm up the circuits and get ready for some work. I need you to do some searches for me. Not an emergency, just for my curiosity. Inhabitants of a town in California, USA, called Sunnydale.” He rattled off the names and phone-numbers of Xander and his friends, along with addresses, knowing that Greznya was already jotting down notes as he spoke. “Full background checks, but be discrete. These aren’t bad guys, just some people I wanna know about.”
“Of course, Kildar,” came the prompt reply, and Mike smiled. God, I love these people!
“Another job, wider search. An organisation called the Watcher’s Council, based in England. Cross reference with the Giles background. There’s probably not a lot on the net - bunch of technophobes, seems like, but see what you can dig up.”
“At once, Kildar,” Greznya was clearly intrigued, but her professionalism didn’t let it show in her voice. Much. Damn, sometimes I wish Vanner hadn’t snapped that girl up,
he mused - then stopped and closed his eyes. That laugh and those eyes …
Making a fist, he shoved that thought away. “Thanks, Grez. Like I said, no big rush on the intel, but completeness counts. Oh, and get Daria to give Zurich Mercantile a call, set up a meeting with my fund manager. I need to do a little banking.”
*** *** ***
Xander walked into the library and smiled. “Hey, ladies,” he grinned, seeing Willow and Buffy seated at the large table in the middle of the room. Finishing wiping his face with the towel, he flipped it over one shoulder and slumped into the chair next to Buffy.
She sniffed and wrinkled her nose. “God, Xander, what’ve you been doing? I thought you had a free period?”
“Yep,” he agreed, dumping his towel into the bag he had left below the table earlier. “Had some running to do.” And it’s a lot easier than it should be. At least being possessed by Mike gave me a leg up - I’d hate to have to start from scratch. Plus, no joint pain. Life is good.
“Running?” asked Willow, slightly puzzled. And rightly so. Traditionally, Xander struggled mightily to avoid exercise, in all forms other than slaying.
“Call it a leftover from last night,” he shrugged, retrieving a plastic bottle of water and greedily sucking down a few mouthfuls. “I mean, Mike’s a former … professional soldier,” he hedged. Not my stories to tell,
he thought. He did
remember Mike telling Willow and Lady Buffy his first name the night before, so no harm in that. “Compared to him I’m woefully out of shape, and he’s almost forty!”
“So you remember stuff from last night?” asked Buffy. “I mean, I sorta remember things, but it’s all hazy.”
Xander shrugged. “Full technicolour for me. Well, it’s like I lived his life, you know? So some bits are faded, but he’d have the same trouble remembering those bits. So anyway, I got the urge to get into shape - might help me live longer, considering what we do at night.”
*** *** ***
Life went back to normal for the next few weeks - well, as normal as Sunnydale ever got. When the whole Ford incident went down, Xander was shocked - Buffy almost got killed, because a sick kid was scared of dying. Of all the potential ways he struggled not to contemplate Buffy dying, that was the one he had actually missed. Still, when Ford’s body was found drained of blood, he made a quick visit to the morgue. Compared to sneaking into heavily protected villas in Eastern Europe, Sunnydale Memorial hospital’s security was too easy to ghost past. A quick jab with a sharpened dowel, and Buffy need not worry about her ex-friend rising from the grave. One less thing to stomp all over her heart.
The whole Egyon thing caught them all by surprise. Giles had a past as a hooligan? Who knew? Still, the gang managed to survive, with kudos going to the vampire - use a possession demon to kill a possession demon. God, is my Willow smart or what? Plus, Deadboy was useful for once.
Now someone was trying to kill Buffy. Assassins, some kind of ancient order. In his borrowed experience, most ‘assassins’ were thugs, out of work mercenaries who were about as far from the Bond villain mould as was possible. These guys, however, were a whole different story.