A/N I got the name for the main character of this story from a short by Neil Gaiman called "Murder Mysteries". I read it and this story just popped into my head, complete. Since then I've been giving myself Carpel Tunnel to type it up even though I should be working on the next chapter of 'Rising from the Darkness'. Anyway, I have no claim on either BTVS or the works of Neil Gaiman, but I certainly wish that I did. Criticism is always welcome, even if it is negative. Enjoy.
The Right Man for the Job
Xander Harris jerked awake and realized that he was standing in a slow moving line. He looked around, attempting to get his bearings but things just seemed to blur, like his eye just wasn’t working right for some reason. He briefly thought about asking one of the people in line with him what they thought was going on or where they were, but there was something about the place they were in that seemed to dry up conversation before it even started. He shuffled along in the line for what could have been minutes, days or centuries; time really didn’t seem to be an issue here, when he found himself facing the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She was clad in nothing but white and her hair was the lightest blond that was possible and her skin was so pale that she seemed to glow from within. Seeing her, and finally putting everything together, Xander came to a rather disturbing conclusion.
“I’m dead, aren’t I?”
“Yes, you are Alexander,” she replied. Her voice was just as beautiful as the rest of her; it was a joy just to listen to it. And somehow the tone of her answer blended both joy and sorrow, as if his death was a cause for both mourning and great celebration.
“This is Heaven?”
“Indeed, well at least the entrance to it,” she replied.
“You don’t look much like I pictured Saint Peter,” he blurted out. Apparently there were some traits that transcended being dead, like the ability to put your foot in your mouth. “So what happened,” he asked quickly, trying to forget his earlier faux pas.
“Do you want to know how you died?”
He thought about it a second, did he really want to know. As he was thinking, the memory of his friends and loved ones hit him, and he realized that he didn’t want to know, that he had to know.
The Angel, there was no other word for her and Xander refused to think of her as Peter, saw the answer in his face and closed her eyes. A cascade of images poured into Xander’s head and he cried out as he fell to his knees, driven there by the power of the images that now filled his head.
The battle was chaotic and Xander was trying to keep his eye on as many of his girls as possible. He could see Janice and Irina fighting back to back; they were both only thirteen and this was their first major fight. He took care of the demon in front of him with a quick swing of his axe and looked back only to see that there was some separation between the two. Unfortunately he wasn’t the only one who saw it because even as he was moving to close the gap a Morrota demon darted in towards Irina’s unprotected back. Desperate, Xander threw his ax at the demon’s head and saw it hit. He went to pull a hatchet and finish the cowardly bastard off when he felt a tremendous pressure in his side, and then blackness. The next thing he knew was that he was in the line that had led to the Angel.
“Are the girls . . . . .”
“They are fine,” the Angel answered. “And, yes; you can see your friends and loved ones soon enough, but first someone wishes to speak to you.” She gestured and there was someone that Xander could only assume was another angel. He was just as luminous as the woman, but his hair was almost jet black and he managed to look mournful in this place, which didn’t really seem possible. Idly Xander wondered what the angel’s name was.
“My name is Azrael,” he answered quietly, “or HaMavet if you prefer. Would you please come with me Alexander?”
It was phrased as a question, but the way it was spoken made it clear that it was a command. Xander quickly followed the man, wondering why the name sounded so familiar. Then he remembered the cat from the Smurfs and looking up the name.
“Yes, I am the Angel of Death,” the melancholy man said to him. And I would thank you to not hum that song in my presence. It stopped being funny after the first five times.” He sighed, “But for whatever reason, the Creator seems to enjoy having that show appear in every possible reality.”
“So God has a sense of humor?” Xander hadn’t figured on that.
“Yes, however you might want to take it easy during your meeting.”
“I’m being taken to see God,” Xander asked, his knees nearly turning to jelly. He faltered for just a second but before he could fall, Azrael took him by the arm. “Why?”
“That is for the Creator to say,” Azrael replied smoothly. The implications of everything that had happened were so great that Xander completely ignored his surroundings as he was escorted to the Heavenly Throne. The sights he missed out on were indescribably beautiful, but his mind was so jumbled that it would have been wasted upon him even if he had noticed. “Here we are,” the voice of Azrael cut in, pulling Xander out of his funk. They were standing in front of two doors that were so high that Xander couldn’t see the tops of them. They appeared to be gold with bas-reliefs of various animals and plants covering every square inch. Azrael reached forward and pushed ever so slightly. The doors opened silently to reveal light. It was blinding and Xander just stood there, dazzled by the intensity of the light in front of him. Slowly his eyes adjusted and when he looked around, Azrael was gone and he was left standing alone in the doorway. There were three thrones in the room, each had a figure sitting on it, but even with his eyes adjusted to the light, Xander could not discern the features of any of the three, they were still too dazzling. In front of the three stood two other figures that Xander assumed were other angels.
“I am Metatron,” one of the angels intoned, “and this is Seraphiel. Welcome Alexander.”
“You’re the voice of God, right?” Metatron nodded and Xander continued, “Thanks, but I gotta wonder why I’m here.”
Metatron grinned and said, “That was wonderfully blunt young Alexander. And since you seem to prefer plain speaking, I shall reply in kind. You are here because the Creator wishes to offer you a job.”
“What,” Xander spit out, completely mind boggled. “What could I possibly do?”
“Well to answer that properly, you need to understand how things work up here,” Metatron said, gesturing to a couple of chairs that suddenly appeared. Xander, whose head was swimming from information overload, sat down. “You doubtlessly noticed that the Peter didn’t look much like you would expect someone named Peter to look.”
Xander nodded, he could at least do that much.
“Well we try to rotate personnel, giving those who perform some of the more vital functions a break now and again. This is especially true in those positions which interact with people, like Azrael or Peter. For example, right now the original Saint Peter is working as a Whitelighter in a “Charmed” reality.”
“Charmed reality?” Xander asked.
“One universe, multiple realities therein,” Metatron explained. “Got it?”
Once again Xander just nodded. Actually it explained a lot but right now his head was still spinning as he was trying to deal with everything right now; heck, he was still trying to cope with the fact that he was dead.
“Now there is one job that we actually have trouble filling because it is a fairly difficult one to do but when you came to us, well let’s just say that with your background, it’s a perfect fit.”
“So what is it you want me to do?” Xander asked, not even being able to imagine what he could do that no one else here could.
“You would become Raguel,” Metatron replied.
“I’d be who?” Xander asked. He had studied a bit about Angels, but Raguel had not been a name he recalled.
“The Angel of Divine Vengeance,” Metatron said slowly as though it was difficult for him to say.
Xander sat back in silence; they wanted him to be the Angel of Vengeance? Sure, he’d listened to Ahn go on about her many years of tormenting unfaithful men and he knew that he could be a vicious bastard when he needed to be, but to be the Angel of God’s Vengeance, well that was on a whole different level. He tried to get a feel for just what the job would entail. “So if someone deserves smiting?”
“Then you’re the smiter,” Metatron replied.
“Leveling cities, killing thousands with a plague; things like that,” Xander said.
“If God wills it,” Metatron replied honestly, “and that’s why we have such a hard time filling the slot. There are not many here who could perform this office for very long.” Metatron glanced back briefly to the three thrones, turned back and said, “You would also be responsible for punishing those supernatural beings that the Lord deems worthy of a rebuke.”
“I understand,” Xander said to the Angel, in honesty he was kinda squicked himself at the thought of killing thousands and leveling cities and that kind of thing, the second part of the job had not even registered with him. “Can I think about this for a minute or two?”
Metatron again glanced back at the three thrones briefly, “Of course,” he told Xander.
Xander closed his eye and wondered if he could do this. Could he be the hand of God’s vengeance? That word, vengeance was rolling around in his head, it conjured up memories of Anya and briefly Xander thought about how Anya would have said yes in a heartbeat. But thinking about Anya also brought to mind her boss, D’Hoffryn; and suddenly something popped into his head. A quote from the head Vengeance Demon, ‘Why go for the kill, when you can go for the pain’ and Xander’s eye popped open, there was nothing that said he had to kill those he administered vengeance to. A slow smile crept across his face, in fact, he reasoned; the best vengeance is one that keeps you alive both so that you suffer longer and so you are able to learn from it and hopefully get your head on straight. He looked up at Metatron and beyond him to the three thrones; the answer was clear in his eye.
Metatron smiled back, “You are Alexander, but now you are also Raguel, the Hand of the Lord’s Vengeance.” With those words, Seraphial darted forward and laid a hand on Xander’s forehead; power flowed into him, it hurt at first but was soon replaced with wonder at all that he now knew. He also had two eyes again, but that was almost secondary to all the knowledge he now possessed.
“I am ready,” Xander said. Divine light suffused his being and he was gone from the throne room; off to see his loved ones first and then to perform his first service.
“Is it possible to do too good a job?” Seraphial wondered aloud.
“I almost pity those he visits,” Metatron replied obliquely.
D’Hoffryn was idly sitting in his throne room and wondering what he’d do to the French people next when a blinding light erupted right in the middle of everything. The light had an almost physical force to it and he fell from his throne blinded. He groped for the arm of his chair to pull himself up when a voice boomed in his head. “I am Raguel, the Hand of Divine Vengeance.”
Shielding his eyes, D’Hoffryn looked to see a burning figure standing in the middle of his throne room. It was obviously a heavenly messenger, the wings and halo gave that away immediately, as did the burning sword; but as he looked beyond those things, he realized that he knew this being. “Harris?” he asked.
“Hello D’Hoffryn,” the former Xander Harris replied. “I died and was given the opportunity to become Raguel, an opportunity that I seized obviously.”
“Indeed, and why are you here?”
“My office is to take vengeance on those the lord deems worthy of attention, both human and supernatural.” Here an almost cruel smile bloomed on his face, “Which includes you.”
“Why me?” D’Hoffryn replied, trying to think of a way out of this mess.
“You and yours have overstepped the authority granted you, and now it is time to pay for that.” He stepped forward and with a flourish pulled out a hand mirror. “Do you see this being? This is the vampire that took over the body of Harmony Kendall. Learn it well oh Lord of Vengeance because for the next five hundred years, this empty head shall be your home.”
“What,” D’Hoffryn screamed, not wanting to believe what he’d just heard.
“You will inhabit her for five hundred years, thinking her thoughts and living her life; such as it is. Powerless to influence, powerless to interfere; you will spend half a millennium listening to the ramblings of this empty headed twit.” Xander’s smile turned cruel, “Why go for the kill,” he began.
“When you can go for the pain,” D’Hoffryn replied. In the split second before his punishment was inflicted upon him, D’Hoffryn wished that Harris hadn’t been such a white hat. The boy truly did have a gift for vengeance.
Xander just smiled and said, “One down,” before he vanished as well.
Buffy was tossing and turning in her sleep. In the month since Xander had died, she’d been barely sleeping and when she did sleep, she had horrible nightmares. She knew that the others were suffering just as much as her, maybe even more she conceded as the faces of the two junior slayers that Xander had saved popped into her head. But ultimately it was her responsibility, it had been her call and Xander had died because of her decision. Suddenly power flared in her bedroom and she leapt out of bed, only to see someone she shouldn’t have seen, Xander Harris. Her eyes narrowed as she went into Slay mode. “Boy did you pick the wrong person to copy,” she said as the scythe came out.
“It’s really me Buffy,” Xander said gently. “Yeah, I died, but then I became something more.” Light flared briefly and he was standing in front of her in full angelic regalia, complete with wings.
Buffy was frozen, confused by what she was seeing, half convinced that she was now hallucinating, when one of the wings bent forward and caressed her cheek. At that caress, all love and good that was in Xander Harris was communicated to her and Buffy realized that this was no dream and no creature of evil. “Xander,” she whispered, the Scythe dropping to the floor.
“In the flesh, such as it is,” he replied with a bashful grin. “I came to tell you that it wasn’t your fault Buffy and to stop beating yourself up over my death.”
“But it was my decision that got you killed,” she wailed and threw herself into his arms.
“It was my choice to be there Buffy, it was my decision to take out the demon that was going for Irina and Janice and it was my choice all those years ago to help you in your fight,” he murmured as his arms and wings enfolded her.
She cried then, a torrent of pain and self loathing that had been held back for too long came pouring out as he held her. Buffy had no idea how long he stood there, just holding her as she cried but eventually things wound down. She felt him lightly disengage himself and reluctantly, she did the same. Suddenly, it hit her exactly what Xander was. Her face came up, a question poised on her lips.
“Your mom says ‘Hi’," Xander told her gently.
Tears sprang up again, but this time they were tears of joy. “Anyone else?” she asked hopefully.
“I’m not allowed to say,” he replied sheepishly. “Rules and all that.”
She nodded, understanding. “Will I see you again?”
“Probably,” Xander replied with a smile. “Not often, but once in a while,” he said hopefully. The the expression on his face changed and light started pouring from his body. “Sorry Buff,” he said, his voice deepening and becoming richer; “duty calls.” And he vanished from her room. Buffy just stood there in her pink sheep pajamas and briefly wondered if it had been some sort of dream. But then she felt something rubbing her toes and looked down to see a feather that was beyond white on the floor of her room. She picked it up and after putting the Scythe back where it went, slid into bed with the feather gripped tightly in her hand. She slept well and dreamless for the first time in weeks.
Xander smiled to himself as he sped towards his next appointment. He had learned of Buffy’s suffering and had asked permission to speak to her. It had been granted but now he needed to get back to work. He was gonna have words with the Powers who soon wouldn’t Be.