In Orbit, January 2376
The room turned almost as one animal when Xander and Jacinta walked in. K'Thall's eyes narrowed at the marks on Xander's neck but if he wasn't going to say anything about them, then neither was she, for now at least. Gabriel found himself smiling almost as soon as he spotted the blonde haired slayer. He wasn't normally given to flights of the heart, but for some reason she called to him. She was attractive, that was certain, but there was something in her eyes he felt drawn to.
"Jacinta Alpohi Bali" Xander said formally, getting a look of shock from the aforementioned woman, "This is K'Thall, and Zandra Cove. Both are like you. Slayers."
Jacinta was still unbalanced from this dark haired enigma knowing her full name, let alone being introduced to TWO other slayers. Marshall Boyd had told her that others of her kind existed, but wow. The Klingon Slayer was glaring at her, she thought, she wasn't sure because Klingons always looked to be glaring to her. The human looking woman was looking at her with a hint of curiosity in her eyes.
"You know Judy and Gabriel." Xander continued, "If it's alright with you guys, I'll leave Jacinta with you. I have to go see someone." Xander said, lying his ass off but he knew that his very presence would make the blonde slayer clam up. He didn't want that, he wanted them all to become a cohesive unit. The terrible thing of it was, they couldn't do that right now with him in the room.
"I will come with you." K'Thall told him, standing up without a sign of the large amount of ale she had imbibed that evening.
"No, you stay here get to know your sister slayers. I'll be perfectly safe where I'm going anyway." Xander told her.
K’Thall didn't seem overly happy about that thought, but kept her own council; for the moment. She was showing a lot of restraint for her, but the Lady Q had told her that Patience would be needed with Xander and a long rope too. Xander was like her, wild and unchained; to 'chain' him would be wrong to the Klingon slayer, so she kept quiet and just nodded at him.
"Need company?" Gabriel asked.
"No you stay, have fun" Xander said with a half smile, the friendship between him and Gabriel was building much faster this time.
With that Xander backed out of the door, letting it slide to a close before his eyes turned to almost pitch black with anger. He turned on a heel and walked off towards the transporter room.
.: 5 Bay Towers :.
The column of light reformed into the body of Xander Harris in a blink of time from when he had manually triggered the beam to bring him down to the planet. Outside the sun was just beginning to rise over the golden gate bridge.
Xander stood before his large picture window and felt the rays on his face for a long moment. In truth he was more than a little frustrated. He hadn't planned on it being the day down here; he'd forgotten that the perpetual night of space wasn't repeated on the planet. It didn't matter, he had a little time. It wasn't like he didn't have other things to do. In fact unless he missed his guess it was around about time for him to be meeting up with Captain Picard and Guinean. It would be around about 2nd watch on the enterprise now, that meant that the captain would be in charge.
Xander walked over to his comms panel. Fingers deftly flew over the gloss back surface, bringing it to life and programming the comms feed almost unconsciously through practice and natural talent.
.:In Orbit, USS Enterprise 1701-E:.
Picard's eyebrows rose as the comm. was routed through to him automatically. In other words it had bypassed the bridge and come directly through to his ready room.
The face on the screen however allayed his suspicions somewhat. Guinean had told him that Xander was resourceful but this was another thing entirely. Data had personally built the security system on board and it had been certified to a very high clearance by Starfleet command, and eventually used by the rest of the fleet. To the captain's knowledge it hadn't been cracked. Up until that point.
"Lieutenant Harris." Picard said with a note of censure in his voice. He looked into the young man's expressive dark eyes. He was reminded of the quote about the abyss staring right back at you. This was how he felt at that moment in time.
"Captain, sorry for the unusual comms protocol but I want to keep this as quiet as possible." Xander told him, "My enemies have stepped up their game."
"In what way. Is there anything I or my crew can do to help?"
Xander shook his head, "No, and it's not something I can really go into in any detail."
"I see, and then may I ask..."
"I was wondering if I could come up to the Enterprise now for that meeting. If you're not busy, Captain."
Picard paused a moment. "I believe that can be arranged."
Xander nodded, "Permission to come aboard then captain?"
"Granted, I will arrange transport in 1 minute."
"I have my comm.-badge, sir."
.:USS Enterprise, In Orbit:.
Xander stepped down from the transport pad his eyes a little more alive. He had taken a moment to compose himself and focus on what he needed to do next.
"Captain." Xander said with a much more genuine and less forced smile than before.
"Lieutenant." the Captain said in reply. "This is Lt. Commander Troi and Data, and my Number One, Commander Riker."
Xander smiled at them all, feeling at home in the presence of friends. Even if they didn't yet know he was one. He felt a slight tickle at the back of his mind and a snort from his constant companion.
#She HAS to be joking.# Q said in a sneer.
#She’s just doing her job. She had no way of knowing that I'm carrying luggage that blocks her scans.# Xander said back with no small amount of humor.
#Baggage am I?# Q asked, mock horrified. #I'll remember that the next time you need a boost. #
#Awww, I'm sorry.# Xander snarked right back at him, humor and sarcasm dripping off of his mental words. He watched as the beauty of Deanna Troi was marred slightly by a small frown.
#That’s got her stumped.# Xander commented wryly. #She’s not used to a human having better shields than even she does.#
#I would imagine not. She should really be concentrating on the more emotive part of her abilities.# Q replied just as wryly. #She may at least scratch the surface that way.#
"You might want to try emotional content rather than trying to use your abilities to channel into my mind and see if I'm being deceptive in anyway." Xander said, gaining a snort of amusement from Q and a shocked look from the command crew of the Enterprise. "I think you'd have better luck that way."
Troi did a guppy impression for a few moments before covering it with professionalism.
Xander smiled charmingly at her. "In my profession Councillor You learn to shield yourself from any threat. You have to admit even humans have SOME abilities in that area."
#Ass, you slipped. Now she is wondering how you know what she does here.#
#She’ll put it down to my being a spy or something.# Xander replied, unconcerned. "It's a pleasure to meet the fleet's best crew."
"Aren't you from the Voyager?" Riker asked him curiously, his expression guarded. His eyes however were bordering on dangerous.
"The crew from Voyager has been split up. That ship and her crew aren't the same anymore. But yes and no. I'm not really attached to any particular ship, Commander."
Riker already knew that of course. Above a certain level, captain actually, but Riker had ways of finding things out, Xander was quite famous.
"Shall we adjourn to a more private setting. I have someone I believe you may be interested in meeting." Picard said with a trace of a smile on his face.
Xander looked at the captain warily. "Oh?" he asked carefully, "If I may ask, who might that be."
"I think it would be better if you met them in person. Guinean asks that you trust her." Picard said playing his trump card.
Xander merely nodded and indicated that the senior officers should precede him from the room. It was only protocol after all.
"Actually Lieutenant, after you." Riker said, a hand just touching his captain’s arm. He trusted the strange young man in black not even as far as he could throw him. He wanted to keep an eye on him. His captain, was after all, his responsibility to keep safe.
Xander smiled disarmingly at the Commander's wary actions and merely nodded, and followed behind the senior officers from the room. He walked through the corridors of the large ship without pause, once he'd ascertained their destination. Without so much as a glance at the LCARS panels to get directions. A fact that fascinated the Commander no end. For obvious reasons the interior layout of a vessel was top secret.
Once they reached the meeting rooms double doors Xander stood back and waited for his next instructions.
As all this had been happening Picard had been watching both his Commander and the young Lieutenant very closely. He'd found out via Guinean that the two were of a VERY similar type of man, and that Xander was in fact pretty much trained to the same level as Riker to a point. He didn't have the experience that comes with command and the years that Riker had of it. He did however, have most of the Commander's skills. Including the ability to play Will's favorite brand of music, on his favorite instrument.
Picard was also highly curious to see how this coming meeting would progress.
"If you would all like to step in. Guinean and our guest are waiting for us."
The door slid open and Xander saw a good looking middle aged man speaking to Guinean.
It took his mind a few moments to register the identity of the other man and when he did the reaction Picard was hoping for was NOT forthcoming.
With a snarl that was almost animalistic Xander drew out a gleaming sword, a Japanese one if Picard was any judge and moved like a snake across the floor towards Rayne’s position. Before Riker's hand had finished slamming down on his communicator Xander had Ethan down on the table with a razor sharp sword to his throat.
"Oh bugger." Rayne said.
"Ethan Rayne... What the FUCK are you doing here."
"Xander, stop that!" Guinean snapped, uncharacteristically sharp.
Xander ignored her for a moment, instead concentrating on the man that had given him more than his fair share of nightmares. "The creator sent me." Ethan said, speaking quickly. He was surprisingly calm however. He looked like he was almost resigned to take out death from Xander's hand.
The gleaming Katana hovered over Ethan's throat before Xander actually smiled, "On whose side?"
Ethan frowned, "Yours of course."
"Who's Lucy getting. The three stooges?"
"Do you mind, I resemble that remark." Ethan glibly replied.
Xander un-tensed as the security team came pouring into the room and pointed compression phasers at him. "Huh, deja vu all over again." he remarked, looking unconcerned at the mass of energy weapons leveled at him.
"Gentlemen." Guinean said stepping forward, "Perhaps we could TALK about this?"
Xander looked the MUCH older woman in the eye for a long moment, "What's going on here Guinean?"
"He's told you the truth, the creator has sent him to help you."
"That's a new one for him. Do you KNOW what he did to us back in the 'Dale?"
"I think perhaps if we all calm down, things may be resolved in a proper manner." Picard intoned calmly, "Thank you, you may go." he said to the security team. "Lieutenant Harris poses no threat to anyone."
Ethan rubbed his neck, "Funny, it certainly felt it." he mumbled.
"Don't make me finish what Giles started." Xander said, picking up on the other mans mumble.
Ethan looked at the young man in interest, "You know about that?" he asked.
"I knew about a lot more than anyone thought." Xander replied, his sword suddenly disappearing into his jacket.
"Isn't it." Xander said coolly. He turned to the Captain of the ship and bowed formally, "I apologies Captain. I hereby turn myself into your custody."
"There is no need." Picard said, cutting over his second in command who was already moving to do that very thing. "Mr. Rayne has filled us in on a few details."
"He has?" Riker asked curiously, "Captain" he added belatedly.
"That is the second reason for this meeting. To bring you all up to speed. So perhaps, if you are quite finished?" he said glancing at Xander.
"Let's just say if any busts of any roman gods appear anywhere near him... I'm taking off his head."
Ethan gulped slightly but nodded, the beginnings of a smile on his face.
"I don't think there is any need for that Xander." Guinean admonished him.
Xander blinked twice, then heard a whisper in his head and smirked at her, then looked from Guinean to Ethan and hard brown eyes bored into the other man. Whatever he wanted to find, he apparently did because he stopped glaring and looked up at the ceiling. "Mrs. Q, can I have some help here?"
A flash later and Q was standing before them all with her usual regal bearing. She calmly ignored the surprised looking faces of the floater’s in the room and walked to stand next to Xander. A totally clear bit of body language. Her message was received loud and clear.
"Is he on the up and up?" Xander asked.
Q smiled her eyes dancing for a moment, "I've been told to inform you that Alice has no knowledge of this man or his placement here at this time."
Rayne looked a little panicked until Xander totally relaxed his stance. "Good, wouldn't want Alice to be associating with Riff Raff."
"I am sitting here you know."
"Oh, I know. We'll talk later... at length." Xander said before turning his attention back to the most powerful being in the room. "Thank you..." he trailed off a question in his eyes.
Q shook her head, somehow communicating to him that she would see him later. She flashed out of sight.
"Did you just call a Q?" Riker asked for them all.
"Well yeah, but it's not like we play fetch or anything." Xander said. "She just helped me reach a quicker resolution to my trust problems concerning Ethan here. Man if Giles was here..." he trailed off.
"I should imagine I'd be needing new kidneys about now." Rayne said with an almost wistful look on his face.
Picard cleared his throat slightly, effectively drawing their attention back to him. "I think it's time we all caught up with each other don't you?" he said looking at Xander.
Xander nodded and looked up. "Computer lock down this room Clearance Alpha One Omega Black."
The Starfleet members of the room all looked at Xander in some shock. Not for the first time. This one was above the others. He had just successfully, invoked a protocol that was a secure as secure could be.
"Now we're secure." Xander said. "I'll take questions." he finished with a slight smile.
Ethan leaned into Guinean slightly, "Lady Guinean..."
"It's just Guinean." Guinean said softly, matching his tone as the room started asking the young Sunnydale native questions.
"My Lady." Ethan said with a charming smile, "May I inquire, what has your friends so dizzy about what Xander just said to the ceiling?"
"He was talking to the shipboard computer and invoked a security protocol that is only to be used in dire cases of threats to the federation. It's all fairly hush hush, in the way these things normally are."
"Namely everyone knows." Ethan said with a grin that Guinean found infectious.
"Quite. The fact it actually WORKED for him makes his security clearance as high as the Captains. Which should not be possible? If I know Xander though, and I do." she added with a smile. "He's coaxed out a fair bit more than he's really entitled to. However, the Admiral from the future did ratify his claim. When Voyager got back, their computers synchronized with Mars as is Protocol. I suspect that the Admiral used her knowledge to make sure that Xander wouldn't be too hindered."
"I see..." Ethan paused, "Admiral from the future. You know HE was considered the normal one."
Guinean quirked a smooth brow, "Really. I find that hard to believe. There is little about Xander that is 'Normal'. Personally I find him extraordinary."
Ethan nodded, "Actually I did too. Just don't tell anyone. Ripper was a good man, but he was blinded by the brightness of his slayer. Funny little thing she was..." Ethan was cut off by a solid thunk. He looked down to see an iron wood dagger shuddering to a halt between his legs. Solidly stuck in the seat upon which he was sat. "Marvelous girl though." he finished quickly.
Xander glared for a moment longer before he turned back to his inquisition.
"Just how did you manage to bring weapons aboard?" Riker asked. His mind having been derailed by Xander’s sudden, and highly accurate dagger throws."
"Wood doesn't show up as a weapon."
"That may be true, but your sword should have." Riker shot back. Promising himself some time with the transporter chief after the meeting.
Xander just smiled. He wasn't ready to give out THAT tit bit of information just yet.
.:5 Bay Towers:.
Ethan looked around the apartment with a slight smile, "You've done well for yourself my boy."
Xander smiled sardonically, "Gee thanks."
"Now, don't be like that. I know we were occasionally at odds before, but I want to help you now."
"The question is WHY?" Xander asked.
"It sound's awfully trite but I have seen the error of my ways. Chaos wasn't what it once was... I found that it no longer held the appeal it once did. I merely want a chance to hopefully balance the scales of justice."
"Alice wants you here." Xander said, using the code name that had basically turned up from his own stupid imagination and stuck, "that cuts you all the slack you need. You put a single toe out of line though..."
Ethan held up his hands. He was rather stunned to realize that Xander was playing in such high circles these days. It was beginning to dawn on him that Guinean wasn't joking. He really had been given a second chance, and by none other than the 'divine' being himself.
Xander tapped his chin thoughtfully, "The question is though... What the hell to do with you." he tilted his head to one side. "You're a mage right?"
"Why yes I am." Ethan said.
"How good are you really?"
"I'm more than passing fair."
Ethan rolled his eyes, "I'm good. Very good in fact."
"Thanks, that brit speak just confuses me." Xander said, tongue in cheek.
"I'll attempt to dumb it down for you."
A smile flickered on Xander's face. "Then Earth is the place for you. I realize you might like to stay on the Enterprise. Earth is where I can base you best. I can't afford the extra time to come find the Enterprise if we get an emergency."
Ethan nodded, "I understand." he said, he was disappointed though.
It must've showed, because Xander kept on talking, "The Enterprise is the Flagship. She's never too far from earth now though. So you'll get to see her on a regular basis." he said, not unkindly.
Ethan looked at Xander and refrained from Comment. "I will admit I was expecting you to beat the shit out of me."
"Like I said, Alice vouched for you. It doesn't get better than that. Plus Mrs Q said it's cool too. So... I wasn't joking about the toe thing though."
"No; I realize that." Ethan said wryly. "So why am I here?"
"Would you like to meet three Slayers’ all in the same room. I realized you must've missed the great awakening. Which, come to think of it so did I... but it’s a rare offer."
Ethan smiled, "Yes I think that would be very interesting." he winked, "As long as none of them start hitting me."
"Don't do anything to annoy them and you'll be fine." Xander paused, "The blonde one is particularly likely to take against you if you do anything wrong. I won't stop her if she decides to become physical."
"Don't worry I really can be most charming you know."
Xander snorted, but refrained from comment. "Come on then Ethan. Maria will pitch a fit when she gets her memories back." he said.
Ethan just frowned slightly and looked at Xander enquiringly.
"Never mind." Xander said off of his look and triggered the transport transponder.
Laughter was flowing like a fine wine muted only slightly behind the bulkhead door. A smile appeared on Xander's face as he heard Jacinta's voice joining in on the cheer. It warmed his heart to hear her laugh. A sound that was so common to his past, the other track, it had become almost natural to his ears. He feared that in this track though... Marshall would rue the day, of that Xander had to promise himself.
The door slid back as he approached and the laughter muted as Jacinta saw who had arrived. It was Xander and a somewhat attractive older guy who was only just slightly shorter than Xander himself. There was a look of expectant amusement on the man’s face she found she liked almost instantly. Though Xander had a similar look most of the time, in fact at times he looked fit to bust a gut. She couldn't bring herself to like the guy. She'd heard good things about him so far though, and hoped they would at least be able to work together. She wanted to fight Vampires, she wanted to gut them and dust them, and spit on their damn corpses. Oh no, she didn't dislike vampires, she hated them with a fiery passion.
Xander's slight smile dipped as he saw the look Jacinta was shooting him and pressed on for fear of backing out. "Guys I'd like to meet an OLD friend of mine. This is Ethan Rayne. Ethan meet the guys."
Ethan raised an eyebrow, "Who taught you to introduce people?" he asked.
"Don't push it Ethan." Xander said, a slight smile softening his words.
"Another prisoner you got jailed?" Jacinta asked the words out of her mouth before she could stop them.
Xander flinched drawing an interested look from Ethan while the rest of the room just glared at Jacinta. "No, it’s okay." Xander said as K’Thall opened her mouth to ream the other slayer out. "She needs time... I've still got more to do. Keep an eye on Ethan for me." he said, backing out of the room quickly.
"You do realize, that is the first time I've ever seen him back away from a fight." Ethan remarked before piercing the blond slayer with a gimlet glare. "Unbeknownst to him I've seen quite a lot of times when he's faced off against another blond slayer. Of course most of that was UST. Frankly I don't know what your problem is. I DO know that you and Xander need to work together, and I'd say that wasn't possible while you were taking out your pain on him." Ethan held up his hand. "I don't know what happened to you... I don't care to be blunt. I'm NOT one of the good guys in the truest form of the word. So just listen to me and shut up for a moment. You're a slayer. It is your destiny to fight vampires and demons. IF you want to survive more than five minutes, you need a support system in place. Xander can and will give you that support system, and do it more competently than anyone else could, or would. He'll do it if you like him or not. He's now at this very moment doing it by letting you have time. Just think on that for a minute before you take out your pain on him next time." Rayne said, before switching expressions like a light switch. "Is that real scotch?" he asked.
.:5 Bay Towers:.
Xander leaned back into the sofa and let his emotions flow through him, just for a moment. He had put on some good old fashioned Dixie land jazz and it was washing over his tired mind. The day had been pretty busy as days went. He couldn't remember the last time he had slept the night through and HIS slayer hated the very sight of him. Oh and the creator had sent Ethan Rayne of all people to help him out. Admittedly the man was a master mage, or if he was to be believed, merely very good. Sometimes Xander just couldn't figure out what was going on in the super being's thought processes. But then if he could, he'd more than likely be a god himself. Even then, judging by the soft snort in the back of his mind. He'd have trouble working out what the creator was up to. He was after all the only truly omni powerful and knowledgeable being in existence, and had been the only one as far as Q knew.
As far as Q knew, was more than good enough for Xander. If he didn't know then it wasn't THAT important. Even without access to the continuum Q had lived a VERY, VERY long time and had done and seen a great many things. Things that had boiled Xander's imagination when Q and he had done a little sharing.
Xander sighed, letting his tiredness flow into him properly for a moment.
Q watched with slight relief when Xander gave into the exhaustion and fell into a fitful sleep. Q watched the nightmarish world of Xander's dreamscape, wishing there was something he could do to help the young man sleep. Then realized that there was, using his mental link Q reached into Xander's mind and switched him into a coma like dreamless sleep state.
Then he settled back and watched over his friend until the morning.
Nothing would harm Xander on his watch.