Three years ago on Christmas
A/N: I know, I should be adding the next section of the Octennius mission, but I wanted a Christmas chapter written and posted. I just have one last section to finish in it, but in the meantime, here this is.
Merry Christmas! (I had a great time with my family yesterday! :D )
Three years ago.
A strong female voice was reading a book in a strongly British accent. "-And outside the house, there arose such a clatter."
"Hey mom?" A young American-accented voice asked.
Roxxanne Croft looked up from the book she was reading, "Twas the Night Before Christmas", and looked over at the 8-year-old in front of her in bed. "Yeah?"
"How do Santa's reindeer fly?"
Roxxanne closed her eyes and sighed lightly. Then she closed the book and set it aside. "Alright, that
conversation." She opened her eyes again and looked at the young Mini-Slayer. "I'm guessing that someone at school told you that Santa doesn't exist, right?"
The 8-year-old brunette nodded.
"Well, I'm not gonna prove or disprove Santa Claus. He is someone that you have to judge for yourself. The legend of the cheerful gift-giving guy has his roots in Saint Nicholas, a saint of the Catholic faith, who loved to give gifts and money to impoverished kids and the like. Then, in the nineteen-twenties during the Great Depression, when Ritz crackers were made, Coca-Cola made the image of a jolly fat man with white hair in old-style red velvet clothing and called him Santa, which is where we get our current image of the guy. In the demonic world, there is this creature that is apparently called Santa Claws, who likes to eat children while still alive. As for the gift-giving man in his magical flying reindeer-drawn sleigh, well, you
have to decide if he exists or not. I refuse to tell you either way."
Roxxanne paused for a moment to take a breath and allow what she was saying to penetrate the younger woman's mind. Then she reopened her blood-red eyes and, after absently pushing aside a lock of snow-white hair from alabaster skin, she began her little speech again. "Now, if I were to try to prove his existence, I'd have to go the Magic route for explanations, or a source of power and information that comes from a near omnipotent source, or God Himself. But, since I'm not going to, I'm going to tell you something else. There's this little pair of conventions we humans have, one called 'Suspension of Disbelief' while the other is that little thing called 'Faith'."
"You mean like Faith?" The girl questioned. "That dark-haired lady who keeps hanging around?"
Roxxanne smiled and chuckled at that. "No, not quite D. The dictionary definition of 'Faith' is that it's a noun. 'belief; trust in the honesty and truth of another; the assent of the mind to Divine revelation'. The way I put it myself? 'Belief in the absence of evidence or proof, and sometimes in spite of, or because of, such evidence'. As for 'Suspension of Disbelief', it's what people have when it comes to books or movies in order to enjoy them. In many movies and tv shows, numerous stunts the characters do are obviously impossible in real life, magic or no, and a number of people would be unable to enjoy the show. However, some of those same people have the ability to suspend their instinct to disbelieve impossible things, and thus enjoy it. Case in point: Star Wars. We know that there are no aliens like that, or if there are then they haven't been discovered yet, and that The Force doesn't exist at all in this universe. But we can disregard that fact and enjoy the movie anyway, and get sucked in. That's 'Suspension of Disbelief' at work.
"Like I said earlier, it is you
that has to decide whether or not Santa exists for you. One way or another, you will continue to get marked and unmarked gifts under that Christmas tree for the rest of your life as long as I'm around and able to make sure it happens. Okay?"
The brunette smiled and said, "Okay." before settling back in to bed, happy once more.
The white-haired woman smiled at the little girl and picked up the book again to read it the rest of the way. By the time she finished, the brunette was sound asleep. She stood and put away the book in D's bookcase before tucking said girl into bed and ruffled her hair, softly saying, "Good night and sleep tight, little one." before leaving the room and shutting the door.
After making sure that all the other girls (and the few guys) in the building were asleep (including Lara, Bruce, and Steve, as well as Dru), she went over to a middle bathroom where she had the greatest relative privacy and pulled off her shirt.
On her pale skin, there was a small bloodstained bandage situated right between her breasts. She pulled it off and looked at the skin underneath. Almost unblemished, other than a small white section. She shook her head at the 'wound', slightly amazed and more than slightly unsurprised. She turned around and looked at the exit point of the wound, also covered with a bloodstained bandage. She pulled off the bandage and looked at the spot in the mirror, and found the same.
Two days ago, she had been impaled there, at an angle of course, and the large metal pole had done relatively little damage, since it missed all major organs except for the scratch to her right lung it caused. As a Slayer, a Called Slayer, of several years, she knew that her body could stand up to severe damage and almost every form of infection and disease in the book, but the fact that she
could recover from being run through so efficiently in just two days still amazed her.
Surprised her? Not at this point. Amazement though? Still works.
A disembodied (and also British) voice rang out from a hidden speaker. "Captain, I feel the need to ask, just what was it that hurt you?"
Roxxanne smiled at the question. "Oh, nothing to be concerned about Jarvis. At least, not anymore. I simply dealt with the cultist that stole D. Swiftly. And then I got bandages. That's all. I know the rules." She smiled at herself in the mirror, trying and willing it to never become bitter or hysterical. Unfortunately, she couldn't succeed, not completely.
"You still beat yourself up about it, don't you?" The voice asked.
She barked out a self-deprecating (and slightly hysterical) laugh, trying to keep out the tears for a moment. In the end, she was glad that every room in the house was soundproofed. "And why shouldn't I?! I put Anthia in the hospital
for goodness' sake! In the Intensive Care Unit
! And over what? A fucking overreaction
, that's what!! How could I possibly not
blame myself?!" She looked down at the sink she was gripping and noticed the cracks she was putting into the granite masonry. She forced herself to let go of it with the same force of will she forced herself not to simply burst into tears. No matter how unhealthy it was, she would not let them drop.
This was one of the few matters on which she lost her legendary control. One of her very few true regrets. She put her own adopted daughter into the hospital simply because she'd broken a pair of rules she'd set down the year before. It had been two years since then, and she honestly could not say exactly how it was that Anthia still liked and respected her.
She took a few moments to pull herself back together and left for the gym to go through the motions of one of the more ancient (and less westernized) versions of tai chi. This means that kicks were included with the punches in the slow motions of the katas. This helped her to calm down and reattain her legendary cool that she'd inherited from her mother, along with her skill with firearms.
As she calmed down, she thought over the past 4 years. Shortly after that first of those four years began, the Watcher's Council headquarters building exploded, killing most of the senior staff who had yet to retire. She had seen the news and had decided to lay down the foundations for a new version of the Watcher's Council, an international corporation that would be called the "SCI". She knew right off the bat that the second and third words in the name would be "Council International", but she couldn't decide whether to pick "Slayer" or "Scooby" for the "S", and finally decided to leave it be as "SCI". She also decided that the board of directors would be staffed by the Scoobies. Rupert Giles, Buffy Summers, Dawn Summers, Xander Harris, and Willow Rosenberg would all be at the controls of the largest anti-Darkness corporation in the world. The first chunk of funding for SCI would come from the dead Senior Watchers' accounts, after going through the appropriate channels such as dealing with that pesky little thing called "Final Will and Testament", of course.
After that, she began to lay down the foundation by beginning to create the charter for said corporation with Jarvis, who'd tutored her through her GED test and has been helping her get her double PhD ever since she started. The corporation would consist of the main headquarters building, which would hold conference rooms, a large armory holding few guns (but they were still there!) and some storable spell components, numerous temporary living situations (similar to hotel rooms), a few permanent apartments for the Board of Directors (AKA, the Scoobies), a few rooms specifically for spellcasting, and a garden surrounding the building and on the roof as well. There would be other, smaller HQ's all over the world, publicly called "Houses". There was to be one made for sure in Colorado Springs called "Croft House". Why? The place was like a no-fly zone for the undead and other supernatural creepy-crawlies. Why that is has always been a mystery, and probably always will be. Croft House, other than being her soon-to-be new home (after this one collapses), would be a vacation area for Slayers and other demon hunters who got tired, battle-fatigued, or otherwise needed a vacation.
She let Jarvis choose the location for the Main HQ and the Croft House, and, surprisingly enough, he chose to put the main HQ right next to the main headquarters for Iron Technology Industries. Good space, and fit the requirements, especially since the only real neighbors SCI would have would be the Croft family, and these days, they mostly resided in the Croft House.
It took them the entire year to get SCI up and running, at least, as much as they could without personnel. That they left to the Scoobies, other than a few people they trusted to help them get on their feet and help vet the hiring process.
In the year after Sunnyhell's destruction, she put herself to work, collecting all the right ingredients to make Croft House both a vacation resort and a home. She knew the second that the informational video about the company was played, and she smiled. There was one little surprise for them. Other than the fact that the core Scoobies were all multi-millionaires, partially from back pay, there was the fact that one person that they don't know is also a secret member of the Board of Directors with them, who would only reveal themself if the company was going too far off the rails compared to what she liked, which was basically what Xander thought was right and mostly fair for the Slayers in general. What she never told them was that that person was her, and she trusted them.
That year, she picked up all the Mini-Slayers in the Colorado Springs area, and began her joke of 'Colo spigs' when talking about the town because of a sign, when she needed to make one of the Minis laugh.
And 6 months after Sunnydale's collapse, 2 weeks after a quick stint in a hell dimension with her mom, dad, and uncle, she saw Anthia with one of her guns twirling around in her hand, loaded, safety off, while reading one of the books from the restricted section of the library/vault area. She lost it, and challenged the Mini to a knife fight in punishment for breaking two of her greatest rules, and landed a lucky blow that put the girl into the hospital.
The smooth moves of her tai chi exercises became ragged for a few moments as the emotions of that day welled up in her again. Then she began to think on that year again, and be glad that she had gotten Anthia to the hospital in time. She had spent a lot of time making it up to the girl.
Much of the second year ASD (After SunnyD) was spent on her various projects that she had going in the basement, a lab-like area where she could do as much welding and metalworking as she wanted to, or she spent it at her place of work, up in Cheyenne Mountain. A few months in she got a baby leopard for the family to raise, but other than that, she mostly stayed in her self-enforced exile for what she'd done to Anthia. A few weeks before the third year ASD, she found D out on the streets while on one of her 'mandatory' walks that Jarvis told her to take so that she wasn't a complete hermit, who then proceeded to bring her back out of her exile. Pretty smart girl for a seven-year-old street kid. pretty wise too.
These past 6 months have been interesting. Other than the injuries, she'd given vacation time to a number of Slayers, one of whom is staying for the holidays, Iron Tech and SCI were having wonderful years, with SCI becoming well-known in archaeological and historical circles as a knowledgeable group that is truly trustworthy, according to a few of her mother's contacts, she'd decided to adopt a few of the girls she'd picked up on her 'nature runs', including D, and they'd all been having a grand old time. As the person elected by the other Slayers as the one in charge, there was a lot to think about, and a lot to do, when she doesn't delegate to Jarvis, that is.
And then the assassins come into the picture. If it weren't for that incident a year ago, nobody here would know that she had a permanent multi-million dollar contract out on her life trying to be fulfilled by the Order of Teraka. Damn nutjob. Had to go around explaining his 'noble purpose' and who he is and where he comes from before she could kill the idiot. D was there when I met him first, that time on the 'nature run'. And then he got away to try and kill her again in front of all her family.
She still swears that that guy was sent to her on purpose. With an Anti-Ranged spell on him.
Well, at least one good thing came of him. Her magic user learned a new spell! And since she uses guns and somehow gets herself into these situations where people are going to kill her one way or another, that thing is damn useful.
And so she came to the current time, if you forgot all about her adventures in Stargate Command.
She finished off her workout, cool and collected as always. Sweating slightly because of the exertion of muscles moving against each others' forces.
There, right behind her, barely trying to be stealthy, was another person. Electrical signature and magical signature (which included the soul's signature energies) confirmed what her 'sensor buoys' in the form of a small spell she can do said.
"Hey Brenda." Roxxanne said, not turning around.
This, of course, startled the woman. Just like it always did. "How the hell do you do that?" She asked, to her credit, very calmly.
"I'll tell ya what I always tell ya. I'm magic." She smirked, still not turning around. "And besides, you're getting sloppy. You weren't even trying to be sneaky. I heard you way up at the door."
Brenda sighed and sat down on the mats heavily.
"Oh dear." Roxxanne said. She turned around to see the middle aged woman fairly despondent. She came over and sat down next to her. "What's wrong?"
"Am I that obvious?" She asked.
Roxxanne peered at her for a moment, then said, "Only when you're trying to be. You haven't lost a single step. And that's not what's bothering you anyway. So what is it? Man trouble? Job getting to ya? Mid-life crisis?" She stopped for a moment, and peered a little closer. "Family trouble because of the holidays?" When she looked over at her, startled, she nodded. "You miss them, don't you?"
Brenda tried to deny it for a second, then gave up and nodded. "Yeah. I ran away." She then gave Roxxanne a half-hearted dirty look. "You probably already knew, didn't you?"
"Are we being brutally honest here? Both sides?" Brenda nodded. "Then yes, I knew. What I like to do when someone's trying to kill me in most situations is reading their minds. It helps me pick the right insults that keeps their attention without crossing lines, and it helps me know what they can do. It doesn't help with some enemies, like vampires, and when I trust them or go into certain boundaries, I don't use that skill set at all." Roxxanne pulled Brenda's face over to look directly into her eyes. "I've trusted you ever since that time when you baby-sat, two years ago. I needed you, and you were there. I trust you." She let go of Brenda's chin and smiled. "That being said, I have no idea what you're thinking, and I won't know the situation unless you tell me. I can guess, but that's all it'll be, a guess. So, tell me what's going on."
She nodded and looked down at her feet. "I just miss them. I ran away at prom." That was all she said.
A moment later, Roxxanne said, "Like John Cusack's character in Grosse Point Blanke? Um, Martin Blanke?"
After a moment, Roxxanne nudged her and whispered, "That's your cue to help fill in the blanks."
"There are no blanks to fill."
"You mean you left and never phoned home?"
She shook her head. She hadn't phoned home since.
"Hmm. ... Were they bad people? Or did you just not want them in your life either because you simply didn't or because you didn't want them hurt?"
"At first, I didn't want anything to do with them. They're not exactly bad people, but I never liked any of them. Then, when I learned how to appreciate them, I had already gotten my job and I didn't want them hurt."
"Alright then. Call tonight or tomorrow from one of my burner phones and it's done, you've talked to them."
"It's not that simple." She moaned.
Roxxanne physically moved her and slapped her across the face, hard, twice to get the point across. "It is. Just
that simple. Now you listen to me and not to your stupid voices saying that it's not a good idea in the slightest and you do it!
Got that?" She ended with that tone that nobody crossed. Ever. Brenda nodded. "Good. Now, in the meantime, you are going to get out of your black and into the PJ's you left here and spend the night and the morning over here, because if you can't spend some time with your own family, then you might as well spend some time with mine." She ended with a kind smile.
Brenda considered the woman in front of her. All five feet of her, even when you include the waist-length hair. "You know, you're pretty smart for a twelve-year-old. How in the world did you get that smart."
"Oh, I was born this intelligent." She said in mock-arrogance. "As for the wisdom? Age and experience, my dear girl, age and experience. Plus, a healthy dose of common sense." She grinned. "Now, I want a sparring match before bed worthy of a Terakan of your skill!"
In the morning, both Brenda and Roxxanne were sore, happy, and well-rested. They had birthday cake that said, "Happy Birthday Jesus" for breakfast, watched The Santa Clause with Tim Allen and A Charlie Brown Christmas and other holiday movies (like they always did, family tradition), and at about lunchtime, Roxxanne excused herself to work on her projects while Brenda went off to phone home for the first time in 18 years. Sure, 36 may not be called middle age by most people, but she certainly felt every single year. As she refamiliarized herself with her family, she tried to ignore the odd bit of very loud cursing that came from the PA system that Roxxanne had apparently turned on by mistake. Though, she did pay attention to one section of dialog. It began right after an explosion.
"Dammit! Alright, that's it! I am going to get a proper Arc Reactor up and running today if it kills me!"
"Captain, why not stop? You already have a properly working prototype for the Arc Reactor." Jarvis was trying to calm her down. "Several in fact."
"Yeah, well, I don't consider them to be proper ones! I'll consider it a proper one when it can put out more electricity than my body does!"
"Captain," Jarvis began sardonically. "Your body puts out more electricity than the average city generator. I really don't think you're going to succeed in getting an Arc Reactor good enough to put out more than you can in something the size of a coaster without cheating."
Then the entire building went dark, and the Minis all exclaimed at the sudden darkness, especially since their TV time stopped. There was a muffled exclamation from the basement, which was a significant achievement since the basement was a lot more thoroughly soundproofed than the rest of the building. Then the power came back on, the movie resumed right where they'd left off (a form of TiVo that came from Jarvis' mind), and Jarvis' voice came out rather stunned as he said, "I stand corrected."
Brenda smiled at that, and continued to make plans with her sister to come over for her next birthday.
In the end, she was rather exhausted and happy, and ended up staying for another night in her 'enemy's house, and life began it's slow movement once more in existence.
A/N: By the way, as a side note, it takes multiple generator stations to power an entire city. NUMB3RS states it better than I can in Season 3, Episode 7 (Blackout) where (spoiler alert!) a bunch of foreign criminals create blackouts over LA in order to kill one of their own or a partner to keep info from being spilled (whom is currently in prison). You'll see what I mean if you watch the episode. You can Netflix it!
So, a generator of that kind of power would be kinda possible. Especially under comic book universal rules.
Another note, I'd like to crow on a personal record here: A quality chapter written in just 24 hours! I got the idea last night (about 8 o'clock) while watching The Santa Clause, at the beginning of the movie when Scott was reading the book/poem thing and I have it here for your public consumption by 4:42 PM!
Hope you liked it! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!