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The Iron Coin Chronicles: Season 1

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Iron Coin Chronicles". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: A Sequel to "The Iron Coin of the Jester". Xander has the Iron Coin, and with it, he can stop Fate's plans for his friends. But is change always good? Set during BtVS Season 3. Xander-Centric with a Xander/Cordelia pairing.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > GeneralAlkeniFR1519115,0811212432,73026 Sep 1225 Jul 14No

Episode 4: In Which Fate Jumps The Shark

Disclaimer: Fourth Verse, same as the First. Now put me in a plane so I can put them in a Hearse. Hellsing abridged references for the win! Don't own Hellsing, btw. And I don't own the Princess Bride, Braveheart or the Die Hard series either. Goes without saying that I also own nothing related to Buffy the Vampire Slayer...

Author's Note: It's a fairly short chapter, yes, but mostly because episode #4 in this season doesn't offer that many opportunities for change. The big arc event in this episode is Angel's return.

Thanks to Starway Man, for beta-reading this chapter. Check out his fics, including his latest one, Here is Gone, already here, on a Computer Near You. Also thanks to my girlfriend, for being my other beta, and putting up with me writing fanfiction.

The Iron Coin Chronicles: Season 1

By Alkeni

Episode 4: In Which Fate Jumps The Shark


October 15th, 1998
Chase Residence, Sunnydale


Xander didn't bother trying to be sneaky about it as he put an arm around Cordelia, and then he lightly touched her breast. He didn't need to. This was hardly the first time he'd had an occasion to do so, when they two of them were sitting on the couch in Cordelia's personal TV room, in front of the forty-inch flat-screen television. Exactly like they were doing right now, in fact.

When their dates didn't involve going out – usually to the Bronze, or the occasional restaurant meal Xander could barely afford – the young couple always went to Cordy's house on Parkview Crescent. After the one time Cordelia had come over to her boyfriend's place, they'd both agreed the experience didn't bear repeating. Mr. Harris thinking Cordelia was a hooker, and trying to hire her services, was just the beginning of the disaster that night had been.

Still, life wasn't all bad these days. The new Slayer, Faith, had settled into Sunnydale after the ancient vampire named Kakistos had been killed by both of the Chosen working together – thanks to Xander arranging for Giles to force Faith to confess what had really happened back in Boston. Curiously, after using the Iron Coin and seeing what sort of roach-house the junior Slayer had chosen to live in – the Sunnydale Motor Inn was a place even he would never stay in, Xander had thought to himself – Giles had arranged for a stipend with the Council, for Faith to be able to afford her own place. She couldn't live with her new Watcher because of appearances at the high school, but the dark-haired Chosen One's living arrangements were now a million times better than they would have been, had the Jester not done what he did with Xander during the summer.

The agents of Fate were not pleased at this disruption to their plans, granted, but they could do nothing to undo what had taken place without drawing the attention of certain higher powers. Powers that would do unspeakable things to them, in retaliation for directly violating the cosmic rules that way. Besides, Fate was too orderly minded to break the rules like that.

Feeling her boyfriend touching her, Cordelia looked away from the television for a moment and smiled just a little, then she returned her attention back to the idiot box. Ever since those zombies had invaded Buffy's house a while back, looking for that way-ugly mask, the fashion queen  had been permitting Harris to take liberties that, last year, she would have never allowed. Well, they had been together for nearly a year by this point; unofficially, anyway, with their first wild kiss in the Summers family's basement. The Chase girl had to admit, strange as it was to contemplate; this was the longest relationship she'd ever been in, so far. And that she had definitely started developing feelings for Xander, despite the odds against it.

Why else would she have watched movies like Braveheart and the Die Hard series, just because her boyfriend had wanted to see them?

Tonight Xander had convinced her to watch a movie called The Princess Bride, and Cordelia had to admit; it was somewhat amusing, in its own way. She'd already made sure he wouldn't tell anyone about the fact that she had quite the movie collection at home, and was really quite the movie buff. The cheerleader smiled again, recalling Xander's exaggerated (for dramatic effect) reaction to her threat. It had been priceless. No making out for a month, if he told anyone her secret.

Good thing I won't ever have to actually carry it out. Cordelia thought to herself. She wasn't sure she had the willpower to follow through on her threat, these days. Well, she did, but Cordelia knew she wouldn't have enjoyed the experience any more than Xander would have.

“Have fun storming the castle!”

“Think it will work?”

“It would take a miracle.”

“Buh-bye!”

Cordelia smiled, and moved a little closer to her loveable doofus as he said the words along with the movie characters. Unbelievable! If Harmony was here to see this right now, her head would probably explode from the shock factor...my God. Six months ago, who would have ever thought that I'd willingly watch a movie like this?

Xander leaned in and gave his significant other a quick, light kiss before turning his attention back to the television screen. He loved this movie. It was a classic, and so quote-able. For a long time – ever since he'd found out about vampires, actually – he'd been dying for the opportunity to say 'I am not left handed!' to a vampire. Unfortunately, so far, none had obliged.

Eventually the movie ended, although Xander and Cordelia were far too busy making out to realize that, or even to turn the TV off for several minutes. Things quickly started heating up as Cordelia ended up flat on her back on the couch, and Xander moved on top of her, his tongue in her mouth as they kissed. Both of them started moaning passionately, as the make-out session threatened to turn into something more. But Cordelia wasn't ready for them to go that far yet, and Xander knew it – despite the throbbing bulge in his groin, which, much to his embarrassment, was totally tenting his pants.

Finally, Harris got off of his girlfriend and Cordelia picked up the remote control, turning off the TV. By mutual understanding, they didn't talk about how close they had been to disappearing inside the Chase girl's bedroom for the night; both teens knew that the sex had to wait for when they were both ready for it.

“Well?” Xander asked Cordelia, finally getting his labored breath under control. “What did you think of the movie?”

“I liked it, I guess.” Cordelia admitted, getting her own breathing down to normal levels. “But no quoting it endlessly.” She added with a smile. “I'm sure you could have recited every single line, the way you were carrying on."

“Oh, come on!” Xander protested, then smiled. “Not all of it. Just the good scenes. 'But only slightly less well known is this! Never go in against a-”

Cordelia shut him up by putting a finger against his lips. She waited a moment, then took it away. “Why do you act like this?” the former May Queen suddenly asked, in a more serious tone of voice.

“Act like what?” Instinctively, Xander's thoughts went to the Iron Coin. Had he done something relating to that, what with the way he'd been behaving since summer vacation -?

“Like a dork. A goof.” Cordelia smiled a little. “I mean, don't get me wrong; I do like you when you're like that. Sort of. Sometimes. It's kind of endearing, in its own pathetic way.” She shook her head. “But it's not who you really are. Xander, you're not an idiot – on account of an idiot couldn't keep up with me during our verbal sparring matches, the way you do. And, I mean, just to use the most recent example, those holy-water squirt guns. They were a big help with those vampires Faith and Buffy handled! What was that freakazoid's name again? The one with the hoof-hands? Kakastones?”

“Kakistos.” Xander corrected her, smiling over how Cordy had mangled the vampire's name.

“Whatever.” Cordelia said dismissively, waving a hand. “But my point still stands. You're not an idiot, but you act like one. Way too often, too.”

“Gee, thanks Cordy. You really know how to make a guy feel good about himself.” Harris smirked.

“See!” Cordelia insisted. “There it is again. Damn it, Xander, why do you always do that? I thought we'd been together long enough, we knew each other well enough that you didn't have to act the clown any more; at least not in private with me. So why do you still act like a horse's ass, when we're alone like this?”

Xander didn't say anything for a moment, and his face looked, well, pensive. After a few seconds, he said softly, “Well...you know what my home life is like, sweetheart. Better than anyone else, including and especially Willow. Being...un-serious? It's been my thing, my coping mechanism, for a helluva long time...it's easier than thinking about and dealing with reality. And habit's a funny thing, I guess. I'm sorry, Cor, but it's simply not as easy as just flipping off a switch when we're alone together."

Yeah, I suppose. Cordelia thought to herself, considering her own habit of being subservient to her parents whenever they talked down to her. A bad habit's a hard thing to break,no doubt about it.

"And ever since sophomore year...well, the stuff we've had to deal with, it makes my home life look...uh, domestic by comparison." Xander went on. "I mean, think about it. We're living on a Hellmouth. A gateway to hell. We go through hell every night we fight against the monsters – demons, and vampires, and...I mean...everything.” He took Cordelia's hand and squeezed it softly. The nightmares. They both had them...and dealing with them was never easy. “Ya wanna know the truth, Cor? I'm amazed, sometimes, that after everything we've gone through, we're still sane...and that we're still alive.”

Cordelia squeezed his hand, before Xander squeezed it back. She then said determinedly, “We'll live through this, dweeb. Graduation isn't all that far away, and after high school's over? I swear, we're getting out of this town straightaway. Go live somewhere safe.”

"WHAT?" Xander looked freaked, just as she'd expected him to be. "But what about-"

"Willow? After we graduate, she's gonna be heading off to some prestigious college like, like Harvard, or Oxford, or whatever. What the hell, it wouldn't surprise me if she's already started getting application forms from every university with a stamp." Cordelia said cynically. "Oz? He'll follow his girlfriend wherever she goes, we both know that. And as for your precious Buffy? Just my opinion, but she doesn't need you any more."

"Yes she does!" Xander protested automatically.

"Does she?" Cordelia asked sharply. "Last night when you volunteered to patrol with her and Faith, the way Buffy blew you off? It spoke volumes to me. And if it keeps up, my money says that by the time we graduate, the only thing the Blonde Wonder will think you're useful for is fetching the snacks during the library meetings. If that."

Xander remained silent for a few moments, feeling the Iron Coin in his pocket. He suddenly had a burning desire to bring it out and test his girlfriend's theory, but he managed to restrain himself just in time. The Jester's warnings of what would happen if he tried something like that were burned into his memory. "And you, Cor? What did you have in mind, apart from disappearing out of Sunnydale with me, once high school's over?"

Cordelia shrugged. "I'm not sure. Get inducted into some hugely expensive sorority somewhere far away from here, I suppose."

Xander shook his head. “Somewhere where we can have a normal life, you mean? Demons and vampires do exist in places other than Sunnydale, honey.”

“Sure, but that doesn't mean we have to live in a town with a big glowing neon sign that says 'eat here' for the monsters.” Cordelia pointed out. "Well, I don't, anyway!"

Sweet Odin, she's really serious about this. My girlfriend wants to get out of this hell-hole for good, as soon as she can, and take me with her. But leaving Sunnydale...I mean....can I really do that? With the Iron Coin... Harris honestly didn't know if that was an option for him, nowadays. He had a responsibility to use that thing wisely, for his friends' sake if nothing else. And he doubted it would be that simple, that leaving the Hellmouth with Cordelia would get them away from this sort of life. The universe – or Fate, maybe – had a perverse, sick sense of humor. And as long as he had the Iron Coin, Xander suspected the agents of Order would never stop trying to get it away from him.

Xander had to admit, right now he didn't know...the Iron Coin, and everything he had to do with it. Cordelia. Which would he really pick?

October 16th, 1998
Sunnydale High Library


“Giles.”

The British Watcher looked up from his book. Xander handed him a piece of paper, which the librarian quickly looked over. Ah. The Latin sentences he'd assigned to the boy to translate. He'd been making progress, though slowly, given everything else he'd had to do. Xander was determined, and hardly stupid, but neither did he have a particular gift for languages. Good Lord, just like everyone else around here, sometimes the boy didn't speak English – he spoke Californian, instead!

It had been but a few months, though, since the Latin studies had begun. Xander went over to one of the shelves as Giles looked over the paper. Only a few mistakes, excellent.

“This is fairly good work, Xander. Though, here on the second one? Amavistis is the second person plural, not the-” Rupert suddenly noticed Xander was completely ignoring him as he looked over the shelf, checking the spines. “Err, are you looking for something in particular?” Giles set the paper down and came around the desk.

“Acathla. That hell dimension he was supposed to suck the entire world into?” Harris said musingly.

“Yes, what about it?” Giles watched as Xander pulled a book off the shelf.

“Any chance anyone could come back from there? Say, just as an example, Angel?”

“What? I don't – there's been no record of, of anyone returning from such a demon dimension...” Giles replied slowly, taking off his glasses to clean them. "Why, um, why did you use that particular example, if I may ask?"

Xander sighed. “Well, that's the thing, Giles – Angel's back. Or, at least, he'll be back in about five days, in the woods. Fighting Buffy.”

Giles nearly dropped his glasses, catching them with his other hand. “Do I need to ask if you're sure?”

“You just did. And I am.” Xander nodded.

Bloody hell. Giles had to take a moment to bury the bad memories of that night he'd been tortured by a creature he'd once called ally, if not friend, but by that point had possessed not even an ounce of humanity in him. Forcing himself to focus, Giles asked, “Is it Angel who will be fighting Buffy? Or...Angelus?”

“There's not as much of a difference as I'd like.” Xander replied softly, thinking of the vision he'd had of Buffy's boyfriend – after flipping the Iron Coin and saying the senior Slayer's name. “But we both know Willow did the spell, and the Buffster said Captain Forehead had already gotten his soul back when she shoved that sword through his guts and sent him downstairs in order to save the world. So unless he got perfectly happy in Hell, Deadboy still has his soul. More's the pity.”

“But he will be fighting Buffy, you say?”

“Yeah...” Xander trailed off for a moment. “The guy's gonna be like an animal, when they do. He'll be...feral, I guess is the word I'm lookin' for. But more importantly...Buffy's gonna win that fight. And...I think he'll recover. Buffy will do everything she can to try to make sure of that, if I know her.”

“Yes...I suppose so. And that's hardly surprising – she never could think straight, where that damned vampire was concerned..." Giles tried to keep the growl out of his voice. "Still...from what I know of the demon dimension Acathla was associated with, it's a, uh, a realm of eternal torment...and time moves differently in such places, than it does here in our plane of existence. Angel, he-he could have been there for centuries, from his point of view...and, um, under such conditions, he'd be...well, I can't even imagine. Feral at the very least, as you, ah, said. So what do you propose we do?” Giles asked.

“Nothing. At least, not until Buffy finds him.”

Giles couldn't believe what he'd just heard. Nothing? Why the devil should we do that? “Why do you-”

“Because if anyone can make sure that Overbite recovers from whatever's happened to him, it's Buffy. And besides, I don't think he'll come back on his own, Giles. You don't just check out of Hell like it's some sort of damn hotel, right? He'll have had help. From someone. Until we know why...” Until I can figure out what Fate has in mind for him... Or Chaos, maybe. I wouldn't put it past the Jester, or his buds, to mess around and do something like this just for their own amusement.

“This is unusually thoughtful for you, Xander...and, um, somewhat out of character for you as well, I-I must say.” Giles said hesitantly. “Given your past feelings for Angel, I'd have thought you'd advocate seeking him out and dusting him, before Buffy ever found out he came back. So why are you-”

“These days, I have to think about things...real carefully.” Xander admitted softly. “Knowing what I know – and knowing I'm going to know things that I can't explain to you, or anyone. I wish I could tell ya how I know these things, Giles, believe me. This isn't...it's really not easy. But you know why I can't say anything to anyone, apart from you.”

After all these months, Giles just nodded and accepted that. He hadn't gotten anywhere figuring out what kind of geas Xander was under, but as long as the boy's advance information continued to be legitimate, then the Watcher could live with that. “Alright, then what's the plan...for after Buffy wins her battle against Angel?”

October 21st, 1998
Crawford Street Mansion, Sunnydale


Buffy Anne Summers had not had a good week so far.

For one thing, her new boyfriend Scott Hope had freaked her out by gifting her with a claddagh ring; the same type of ring Angel had given to her on her 17th birthday. For another, one of Scott's friends, Pete Clarner, had turned out to be a murderer; not to mention he'd been pulling a Jekyll and Hyde routine, killing his girlfriend Debbie Foley as well as a another student named Jeff Orkin. It was a good thing she and Xander had managed to stop Pete from killing the school counselor, Stephen Platt, but that was about the only good thing in a week filled with violence and mayhem.

As well as the reappearance of her former undead boyfriend.

Xander watched from the shadows as Buffy chained Angel to the wall, closing the manacles around the unconscious vampire's wrists. Finally, she was done; the vampire was held securely to the wall, unable to move far from his position. He watched as the blonde Slayer turned and headed for the door, before Xander stepped into view.

“So tell me. Were you planning on keeping this a secret?” Harris asked, gesturing towards the unconscious vampire.

Buffy nearly jumped out of her skin. “Xander! How did you – hey, were you following me?”

“No. Didn't need to. Already knew Angel was back.” Xander said carefully. He wasn't sure if the Jester would let him get away with saying that; but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

“What!? How did you – why didn't you tell me?!” Buffy screamed at him. It was a good thing the mansion was so far away from the nearest neighbors, her voice was that loud and shrill.

“Would you have believed me if I had? Good Godfrey Cambridge, Buff, I didn't believe it myself, even when I saw it with my own eyes. To be honest, I was kinda hoping it was all a hallucination or something. Especially after Giles told me no one's ever come back from a demon dimension!” Xander said in annoyance. My God, maybe Cordy had a point last week about how Buffy's started acting around me...

“You told Giles? Who else did you tell?! Willow? My Mom? Did someone send out a memo?!” Buffy yelled angrily.

“No. I told Giles because he's the expert on this kind of things. But FYI, I say you should tell Willow, Oz, your mother, and everyone else. Including and maybe especially Faith, Buff. On account of you have a feral vampire chained up, not five feet away from us! Deadboy is back, after killing people for four months and getting within a hair's breath of destroying the entire freaking world. I mean, forgive me if I'm not dancing a jig or whatever, that Ms. Calendar's murderer has returned into our lives!”

“He's not – he has a soul!” Buffy said automatically, causing Xander to roll his eyes at hearing that old excuse again.

“And that's the only reason why I'm not yelling at you to stake him – right here, right now. But you can't keep this a secret, Buffy. I can tell you still love him, despite being an item with Scott now. I get that-” Harris paused, and then shook his head. “No, actually, I don't understand it at all, but I have no choice but to accept the fact that you do. You're my friend, and there are times when I simply trust you to do what's right, Slay-gal. But this is too big for blind faith, Buffy. The truth's going to come out eventually – and when it does...” Xander shook his head again. “Do you really think hiding the fact that your killer ex has come back from Hell is going to turn out well? Faith finds out that you're hiding a vampire – her immediate reaction is going to be to kill Angel first, and ask questions like never. You've got an entire Hellmouth to cover, and you can't do it while hiding something like this from your friends – or from the other Slayer who's going to be watching your back on patrol, and in the big fights.”

Ignoring the stubborn look on Buffy's face, Xander turned to head out of the mansion. “I know you won't just dust the guy and be done with it, as much as I'd like to see that happen – and despite personal feelings, I promise I won't try to dust him either. Look, Buff, it's up to you; I'm not going to tell anyone else about this, and I don't think Giles will either, even though I can't speak for him.” Harris sounded almost...disappointed as he stopped at the front doors of the abandoned mansion. "Just please, keep in mind what I said. Trust has gotta be a two-way street, and once people find out you weren't willing to trust them with this particular secret – well, what makes you think they'll trust you with any secrets of their own, in the future?"

It was simply too bad how Buffy was in no mood to listen to her male friend, as Xander left and she settled down to watch her unconscious vampire lover twitching and jerking in his sleep, obviously reliving his experiences in the hell dimension to which she had sent him.

It was also too bad how Buffy started making plans to talk to Giles as soon as she could, to find out exactly how Xander had known Angel had come back before she did...
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