Training and Relevations
Title: Vampire hunting can lead to adventures
Disclaimer: All characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to Joss Whedon, Greyhawk belongs to Wizards of the Coast, the characters Justicar, Cinders, Escalla, Enid, Polk, Henry and Morag belong to Paul Kidd
Summary: Xander starts to patrol alone. Then finds this interesting stone...
Setting: Season 4 after the Initiative was discovered by the Scoobies / AU Anya left during Graduation Day never to return. Xander has already his job in construction, but doesn't show any talent for carpentry so far
Pairings: B/R in the beginning, you won't be bothered with it too long. B/X in the end (I hope ( ), W/T mentioned
Rating: 13, 16 max. Due to some violence and swearing
Feedback: Of course, after all I want to get better.
Author's notes: *....* denotes thoughts; //...\\\\ denotes telepathic communication; further notes will be added as necessary
Thanks to Tenhawk for bouncing ideas back and forth with me
After building their camp Jus produced a wide selection of weapons for Xander to choose from. There were a broad sword, a short sword with a leaf shaped blade, two axes one one-handed and one for two hands. He also laid out a quarterstaff, a spear and a mace.
"Now lets start with your training. First we will choose the weapon that suits you best. Take each one and try to get a feel of them, then tell me which two feel best to you," ordered the ranger.
After a moment of simply looking at the weapons Xander started with the axes. The two-handed ax was quickly discarded as it was too heavy for him to even properly lift it. The other ax joined her just as soon for Xander couldn't find a way to grip it comfortably. Quarterstaff and spear were also sorted out quickly.
Then it was the mace's turn. As he picked it up the first time he immediately noticed the comfortable weight and good grip he had on it. Intrigued Xander studied the weapon closer. On the mace's hexagonal head, about as big as two fists, suns and flames were etched in, the shaft was adorned with carvings of vines and leafs. Then he recognized it, it was the weapon the gnolls had wanted to give to the demon. After a bit of deliberation Xander quickly placed this weapon on the to-keep side.
As he was told to choose the two best feeling weapons Xander now had to decide whether to keep the short sword or the broad sword. Both felt similarly good in his hand if he kept his arm still but after several swings and stabs with both of them Xander decided that the short sword was suiting him best. It also was way lighter than its big counterpart so he should be able to use it better for a longer time.
"Good choices," commented the Justicar. "The sword is a good choice for fighting a quick opponent and more versatile as you can stab and slash with it. So it is perfectly suited for close quarter fights. The mace on the other hand can deliver heavy punishment, especially on heavily armored enemies you would be hard pressed to harm otherwise. It also is probably much more effective against undead as several of them are more vulnerable to such weapons than to swords and on the suns etched on the head look like holy symbols of Pelor, the god of the sun. Add to that the fact that Cinders smells magic from it and you have a high chance of a magical weapon against undead, but I have to tell you that we don't know what enchantments are on the mace, it could be an enhancing spell but it could also be a spell preventing the head to rust."
"Cool. Buffy will drool when she sees a magic vamp-ex-weapon after I get home." said a grinning Xander only to add a moment later, "If I get home...." As a short flash of pain showed in his eyes as he remembered that maybe he wouldn't ever return to Sunnydale.
"Now to work," commanded the Justicar rousing the boy from his despair. "We start with the mace. It is the more straight forward weapon of the two and you should learn the basics of using it quickly. At first we will concentrate on your defense - It is the hardest part of using a mace and from what I have seen from you so far you biggest weakness. You may be able to dodge relatively good but that is mostly detrimental to your style of attacking. It is much better to deflect the enemies' weapon so that he is open to your counterattack than to keep retreating without gaining the initiative. So pick up your mace and I will attack you slowly and you try to deflect my sword. Then we'll look at what you did right and what wrong."
"Uhm..., sure. But do you have to use your sword? I mean I saw how easily it cut through this bear-thing..."
"Don't worry; I'll keep it sheathed until you are good enough."
Xander nodded with relief and got into something similar to a ready stance he had seen Buffy use in training.
"Hold it. Don't move," ordered Jus. "Do you feel how uncomfortably and awkward your stance is?" at Xander's nod he continued, "Now move your legs a bit more apart. Good. And now place the left one a bit more to the front. Yes that's it. You even bent the knees just enough, that is good. Now I'll attack you."
With that the ranger brought the two-handed sword above his head and started a slow downward cut. Xander held the mace like a baseball bat and hammered it on the blade of the sword, bringing it wide to his side. But this move also left him overbalanced and a light kick to his unprotected ass brought him sprawling to the ground.
"Not bad for a first try with a mace. Now, a mace is built to be wielded with one hand not two. You can use it with both hands if necessary but then you shouldn't grip it with both hands together at the end, place one a bit further up then you can stop a swing much better and without overbalancing. ... Yes, just that way. Again and this time try it with only one hand. No grip it a bit further up."
And so it went on for the next three hours till darkness fell and Henry had nearly finished with preparing the stew.
"All right and now you will do some stretching exercises till the meal is ready," ordered Jus.
"Slave driver," grumbled Xander under his breath. Then he asked in a louder voice, "Why? Shouldn't I have done that before I start with training?"
"No, that is no use you would only run the risk to harm yourself. But if you do it when all your muscles and sinews are warm you increase their flexibility. Now do it," answered the ranger not without some compassion in his voice but the steel that Xander could hear beyond that told him to quit arguing as Jus wouldn't give in.
But luck was with Xander and not even fifteen minutes later he sat with the others at the campfire. While he ate Xander watched his new companions with some fascination. Henry had just finished his bowl of stew and was now busy brushing Enid's mane, something she rewarded with a loud rumbling purr. Polk was quiet for a change and happily lapped brandy out of a bowl. By the time Xander had his third refill Jus was finished with his meal and left for a short scouting trip around their camp. A short whir of wings told them that Escalla had decided to join him. A few minutes later Xander was finally filled up with enough food and a wave of exhaustion overcame him. With a mumbled good night he went over to his bedroll. He was asleep before his head came to rest on the ground.
Soon he was fully immersed in his dreams and frown told anyone watching him that he wasn't happy with what happened in his dream. But soon a certain Slayer entered his dreamscape and a wide grin appeared on his face telling anyone who saw him sleeping that he enjoyed this new dream immensely.
Sunnydale, CA Friday, late afternoon
Chatting about the latest gossip at college Buffy and Willow approached the Harris residence.
"You think he is there already?" Buffy asked her friend.
"Sure, Fridays he is off at 3 and seeing that it is now nearly 5 he has to be here," replied Willow and rang the doorbell.
The ringing of the doorbell was answered by the resounding crash of breaking glass and shortly thereafter two voices cursing loudly. The curses started to develop into an argument and then into a screaming match only to stop suddenly after a few minutes.
Buffy and Willow looked at each other and exchanged a worried gaze, not sure what to make out of the whole commotion. Before they could decide on a course of action the door was opened. In the door stood Mrs. Harris wearing what looked like a faded summer dress at least decade out of fashion. Her eyes were read and puffy, the hair unkempt and the distinctive odor of beer and other alcoholic beverages hung around her like a cloud.
"What 'cha want?" asked Xander's mother with a slightly slurring voice.
"Hi, Mrs. Harris. We wanted to visit Xander," answered Willow in a perky voice while Buffy could only look on with astonishment.
"He's not 'ere," came the frosty answer.
"Do you know where he is? We wanted to ask him something," Willow asked trying to lighten the mood by becoming even more cheerful and failed miserably. For Mrs. Harris seemed to be too drunk to even notice the effort.
"Who's a' the door?" yelled a drunken voice from further in the house.
"Two girls looking for our 'orry excuse o' a son!" the woman yelled back. Buffy and Willow were both shocked into silence at that. As they tried to regain their composure they saw Harris senior coming from the living room.
"Now that are some pretty bitches the shitbag 'as gotten there. How much's 'e paying you?" sneered the drunk.
Still overwhelmed from the unlikely scene in front of them both could only stare and, in Buffy's case, clench their fists.
"The looser ain't 'ere. 'aven't seen 'im for days," continued Harris not realizing how close the girls were to exploding. "If ya see that good-for- nothing tell 'im the rent has to be on the table by Sunday or his shit flies out."
Having said - or better slurred - his bit he ripped the door out of his wife's hands and smashed it closed in their faces, leaving the shaken Slayer and Witch looking on the door still fuming with anger. After giving the door a solid kick that nearly took it from its hinges Buffy stalked away from the house towards the sidewalk, Willow following her closely. After bringing some distance between themselves and Xander's home they stopped.
Buffy shook with barely contained rage as she went again over what Xander's father had said. Willow was full of indignation and asked, "Can you believe what he said? How much we charge - what did he take us for, prostitutes?" Though Buffy shared Willow's anger about that she was much more upset about what Mr. Harris had said about his son and she let Willow know that.
"Is that your only problem? Didn't you hear what he said about Xander? One doesn't talk about ones children that way. And Xander has to pay rent for that wet hole in the ground that passes for a cellar. Can you imagine that?"
"Well but we also have to pay rent," replied Willow in a low voice, taken aback by Buffy's forceful, nearly accusing speech.
"Yes, we have to pay rent, but we live in the dorms and as far as I remember neither of us have to pay any rent for a room at home. And a much better room than his to boot."
"You are right," Willow answered with a defeated voice. "I don't get how they could be that drunk already before dinner. I mean they were in rehabilitation for drinking when Xander was 10 and I thought they had stopped, I mean Xander never said anything anymore about them drinking and e would have, wouldn't he? I mean I'm his bestest friend and he would tell me something like that, wouldn't he?"
"I don't know. All I know is that I now know why he invited us so seldom over. I definitely wouldn't want to invite my friends if I had parents like that," that said she gave herself a mental shove and continued to Willow, "Come on, lets go to Giles. We have to do something about Xander, he wasn't home that means he is either at Giles' or missing. Who knows what has happened to him, maybe we have to rescue him."
"O.K. Lets go."
Giles' apartment 10 minutes earlier
Frustrated Giles shut the last book in a long row of read books since Xander's disappearance from Earth and subsequent phone call from somewhere with two moons. Unfortunately the connection had been broken and so far he hadn't discovered anything to contact the boy again. All spells that could contact him demanded at least general knowledge of the target's location and so he now had to try and find the plane or planet his young charge had found himself on. So far none of his books on planar travel had wielded a success. Either the plane had too many moons or too few or it was so inhospitable that Xander wouldn't have survived long enough to call him in the first place.
After a few moments of letting his thoughts wander freely Giles lifted his cup, only to find it empty. With a suffering sigh he rose and went over to the kitchen to make another pot of Earl Gray. As the water boiled he felt a pang of hunger. He dimly remembered having breakfast but as he thought about it he remembered that he hadn't had any lunch. He looked into his cupboards to see if any cookies or scones were around to stave off the worst hunger till he would make dinner but he only found a half-eaten package of Twinkies.
Giles shuddered with disgust as he remembered the one time he had tried the overly sweet treat.
Realizing that he had to either endure his hunger or make dinner earlier than usual he decided to look into the freezer for something to place in the oven. As he searched through the freezer he was glad for Xander and Buffy's enormous appetites that had prompted him to create an emergency stash of frozen meals in case one of their research sessions would take longer than anticipated. After going through all that was there he decided to make himself some Cantonese Chicken with bamboo sprouts.
He had just placed the food tray into the oven and set the timer as the door bell rang furiously.
After a look on the clock Giles thought, *Who could that be? Buffy wanted to come along around 8, that is still three hours off. Oh my goodness, I hope nothing else has happened.* and hurried to the door. As he looked through the spy-hole he saw an agitated Slayer and equally nervous redhead standing in front of his door waiting to be let in.
He hadn't even opened the door half-way as Buffy and Willow brushed in, nearly slamming the door into his face.
"So, what is that important that you couldn't wait for me to open the door properly?"
"Is Xander here?"
"No, he isn't. What is so important that you suddenly have to see him so urgently?" asked Giles with just the barest hint of frost in his voice.
"Well, Buffy and I wanted to watch the Evil Dead marathon with himandtodayishisearlyoffworkdayandsowe wantedtoaskhimathomebuthewasn'tthereandhisparentswhoaredrinkingagainhaven'ts eenhimfordaysandtheywerereallyrudetous and I am babbling, aren't I?"
With an indulgent smile Giles nodded and answered, "Indeed you are. Now once again and a bit slower this time, what is all that about?"
While Willow once again - but slower this time - launched into her tale Buffy watched her Watcher attentively. She had the distinct feeling that he knew more than he let on. And she quickly saw the signs of his uneasiness.
Giles removed his glasses and cleaned them repeatedly and once in a while he pinched the bridge of his nose as if to chase away some pain. All the while wearing the typical expression that screamed I'm-lost-in-my-thoughts-because-something-strange-is-going-on-and-I-can't-figure-it-out.
When Willow finally was finished with her tale both girls looked at Giles with hopeful expressions on their faces. "So, do you know where Xander is?" asked Willow.
Giles visibly searched for the right words as he didn't really want to tell the two what had happened and how it came to that.
"Come on, Giles. Spill! I know you know something," demanded Buffy.
"What? What should I know?" a flustered tried Giles to weakly deflect this line of questioning. Now Willow also noticed something strange about Giles' behavior, if he didn't know anything he would say so and not try to circumvent answering the question and so she put on her resolve face and stared intently at Giles. Under the combined pressure of his two charges Giles started to cave.
"Xander is, as far as I know, not in Sunnydale anymore."
"What!?" Buffy and Willow exclaimed, clearly surprised. Willow continued, "What do you mean not in Sunnydale anymore? Where is he? Did he move away? And why wouldn't he tell us, his best friends, or his parents for that matter?"
At the best friends comment Giles drew a face but didn't say anything about it despite feeling an urge to do so, but it wasn't his place to do so. This was between Xander and the girls.
"No he didn't move away. He was to bring me an object for some research but he was delayed and it may take some time till he gets back."
During this Buffy had, while listening with one ear to Giles, read the titles of some of the books stacked on the table and the ground around it. The few books with English titles she could divide roughly into two groups, one dealing with possessions and the other with other dimensions.
"Hey Giles, what exactly are you researching? Possessions and other dimensions don't seem to mix."
"Well, I have been looking into possessions for Xander.," before he could continue he was interrupted by Buffy.
"For Xander? Why? Has he developed a taste for living pigs again?"
"Living pigs? Oh no!" Willow showed definite distress at the thought that Xander might again be the host for a hyena spirit.
"No, no. Nothing like that. If you had let me continue I would have told you already why I'm looking into that," said Giles his annoyance unmistakable in his voice. "Anyway, I'm researching the subject because Xander approached me about the Halloween incident. It seems that he has retained the soldier's memories more permanently than we thought. Xander told me that he has discovered that he still has a significant portion of skills and reflexes incorporated and he wondered how that was possible. That reminds me do either of you two still retain knowledge or skills of your costumes?"
Both, Willow and Buffy, shook their heads in denial, but Buffy also flushed a bright red, something that Giles picked up immediately as it wasn't something that happened commonly to the Slayer while in his presence.
"Is there something you have to tell me Buffy?" inquired Giles.
After much fidgeting Buffy answered, "Yeah. I still remember some things too. I know a little bit more French than before and I know nearly everything about knitting, sewing and embroidering."
"Anything else? Somehow I can't shake the feeling that you have to tell me a bit more," asked Giles enjoying turning the tables on his inquisitive Slayer. Somewhere in a corner of his mind a little voice told him that it wasn't right to feel such glee but another part ruthlessly squashed these protests.
Buffy rolled her eyes. Why did he have to be so good at reading her? Slightly embarrassed she continued, "Well I don't only know how to do all that stuff but sometimes I get an enormous urge to use those abilities and then I find myself working for hours on some cushion cover or socks or shawl."
As Willow heard that she could barely suppress a giggle but despite all efforts she couldn't keep a wide grin from her face. Giles simply nodded and scribbled down a note on a nearly full page.
"And what is it with those dimension books? Do they have anything to do with that or Xander?"
"Yes, in a way."
"In a way? What way? Come on don't let us draw it all out of your nose one thing after the other," demanded Buffy and Willow nodded supportively.
Giles drew a deep breath. He knew that it could get ugly now, but faced with the direct question he didn't see a way around explaining the whole thing without lying to his charge and Willow. And that was something he was unwilling to do.
"Xander found a demon excavating a box on a graveyard and after disposing him he looked inside the box. Somehow he touched the gem lying in it and was transported off to some other dimension. He managed to contact me but the contact was interrupted and now I'm looking for clues of where he is now and how to get him back."
"What!" Exclaimed both girls simultaneously. "How could that happen?"
"I would guess Xander touched the gem and activated the contained magic that way."
"No, what we mean is how XANDER managed to kill a demon on his own?" corrected Buffy. "And what was he doing in a graveyard in the first place?"
"He was patrolling," Giles answered calmly as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Buffy's and Willow's eyes bugged out and the Ripper in Giles idly wondered if they would fall out any moment. Then he found himself bombarded with accusations.
"He did what? And you knew about it? How could you let him do that?"
"How could I not? It was his choice to do so and I decided to give him whatever help I could give so that he had a better chance to survive than on his own. And that brings me to the question of the week. How could YOU push your so called best friend so far away that he saw no other way than to go on patrol on his own?" asked Giles, his voice gaining in volume and sharpness.
"We just wanted to keep him safe," Willow answered somewhat timidly.
"And have you asked him anytime if he wanted to be kept safe?"
"Uhm, no we didn't. But he is just a normal guy and he should live a normal life. It isn't as if he had any special destiny that forced him to fight against vampires."
"Indeed he doesn't have any destiny that forces him to fight against demon but so don't you, Willow."
"But I'm a witch. I chose to help because I'm able to do so."
"And he did the same. He also chose to help. Who are you to deny him his choice?"
Author's Note: That is all I have currently written on this story, while I have roughly planned out the rest of the story I currently suffer from writer's block when it comes down to fleshing out the plot line. I hope to overcome it soon, but one never knows how long it will take.
And please don't forget to review - who knows, maybe yours is the one that removes my block... :)