Change in Regimen
Change in Regimen 1/?
Author: Tohonomike tohonomike@a...
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners.. Joss/ME
characters. I do not and cannot make money off of this, but for one of those bright shiny `coins of the realm' mentioned by Ten Hawk, I might come up with something more/better.
1983 – New York City
Anthony Giles Harris and Jessica Travers Harris (nee LaVelle) had lived in Sunnydale for three years keeping an eye on the Hell Mouth before stumbling across their Slayer, a young witch named Maria Castle from a mainly Sicilian background. The Harrises included Maria as family and not just as a Slayer, and never really were able to return home. With little Alex, nicknamed and sung to as Alessandro by the young Slayer, they enjoyed two full years of slowly touring the major cities of Europe clearing out small nests of undead left behind by two particularly troublesome vampires, Drusilla and William.
They were in just-arrived in New York when they decided to go out to dinner, having headed out to America again on immediate orders from the Council to search for an old vampire named Kakistos that had surfaced anew in the Northeastern United States in this January of 1983. They’d sent their possessions across the day before, and were walking by the docks when they heard a scuffle. They moved quickly around toward the Hudson-side of the warehouse, finding a mid-twenties street tough fighting off five vampires. Maria threw a fire spell into the midst of the vampires and charged in, twin stakes stabbing, vampires dusting and four large Polgaras, betting in the dark recesses of the warehouse exterior, noticed the humans with the Slayer, and becoming angry that their entertainment had been interrupted.
Anthony rushed in, coat-hidden short sword drawn, hoping to slow the demons and allow his family to escape.
“Run Jessica!” he cried, “Get Alex to safety! I love you!” as he wounded one and used the surprise to slice off an arm-spike from another. Maria fought hard, and her companion, surprised to have had his prize fight interrupted, knew his own life would be forfeit to the Polgaran bookies. He tapped into his own magic and began to fight back, but after burning three more vampires approaching the fight, he burned a Polgara before being thrown into a wall gasping for breath.
Ethan Rayne knew a Slayer and Watchers when he saw them, all that time with Ripper and the others had given him more than he’d ever wanted of them, but that nasty buried sense of balance and honor he’d kept hidden pushed him to remain conscious and try to help enough so they could all flee. Unfortunately, as got to his knees, Jessica Harris managed to burn a Polgara with magic as she ran toward Ethan’s position and the escape beyond him, only to be skewered by a demon. Ethan caught the toddler as the mother fell to the ground dying, looking up to see Maria badly wounded and Anthony hurled into the wall near Ethan himself, not moving.
Maria was suffering from a concussion as two vampires and a Polgara remained to fight, surprised when Ethan’s revolver fire striking the vampires, allowed her to quickly dust the undead. The Polgara knocked her into the wall between Anthony and Jessica, then slowly stalked toward Ethan as he fired the last of his rounds into its face. Maria picked up Anthony’s sword, leapt in front of Ethan and exchanged mortal wounds with the demon. As it died, she slumped between her surrogate parents and watched as an also-dying Jessica addressed Ethan.
“Ethan Rayne?” the woman gasped in recognition, “They sent us here after Kakistos, you must protect Alex, Ethan, even if you hate Rupert now.” She raised her hand to her pocket, and reached out with an amulet to her dying husband and Slayer-daughter. “The memory spell, Maria, for your little brother.” Turning back to the troublesome chaos practitioner, “I know you better than Rupert, Ethan, I’m one who can see people. I don’t know who sent us here, but Anthony suspects Kakistos was to be Maria’s Cruciamentum on her birthday next week, and he doesn’t trust the Council lately. You raise Alex away from them but teach him.”
Maria placed the amulet on her little brother’s forehead, as Jessica grabbed Anthony’s still-warm hand in her own to touch the amulet. A light flashed and the baby quieted as three fighters for light themselves went dark. Ethan looked at the baby, and started to gather up effects to make it look like a robbery.
“Oh, damn,” he sighed, “Maybe you’ll be the rare Watcher to be have a sense of humor; gods know your lovely mother did.”
Ethan Rayne’s pinned down honor compelled him to disappear young Xander from the scopes of the Watchers and any demons in the know, dumping Anthony’s body and that of Jessica into the Hudson so that if found Xander’s would be believed lost.
The Trouble of Tottenham Court collected the Harris possessions, including a vintage automobile and a sizable library, and headed west to Sunnydale. Ethan had known Jessica but not Anthony really, and hadn’t learned their middle names, but when he found out, the mage decided to raise him as an Anti-Watcher, what one should be with all of their skills and maybe preempt a slayer to get back at the old tweeds that stole his best friend away.
Taking over the three-year-vacant property proved easy, and assuming the identity of Anthony Harris, rented out the property while choosing to live in San Francisco for two years.
Life went well, Alex learning very quickly and gaining Ethan’s approval and exhortations to greater achievement. Ethan suspected that some of the knowledge had been passed into the subconscious from the spell, but as the child hadn’t suddenly spoken like an adult dismissed it as an unfortunate failure he’d have to compensate for himself.
Ethan opened an occult magic and book store, making a good living but contracting out on the side to profitably use his dark inclinations without risk to the boy.
He’d moved into an upscale enough neighborhood and had found an older woman willing to watch after Alex when Ethan himself was busy. “Gramms” Halliwell was a strict and upright woman who provided an excellent balance of nurture and discipline even if she wasn’t properly British.
Ms. Halliwell senses the magical upbringing being foisted upon the young boy. Secretly and against her better judgment began regularly blessing him, and teaching him White Magic techniques to keep him as safe as possible from the corruption of Chaos and practitioner magic that Ethan favored. As she admitted to Alex one day, her granddaughters mustn’t know about the witchcraft as she wanted them to have as normal lives as possible until they were old enough to decide for themselves.
“But why do you teach me, Gramms?” the four-year-old prodigy asked with big brown eyes boring lovingly into her own.
“Because, my little Alex, you’ve already been touched by magic, and not just by that you’ve been learning lately,” she replied quietly and in reference to Ethan, “Is there anything you can tell me?”
“It’s nothing bad, Gramms, but I’m not supposed to talk about it with anyone.” The older woman could sense the truth behind his words and hoped he could discuss it with her someday; it seemed to be something between a memory spell and a geas.
“Okay, go play with the girls.”
When kindergarten time came around and a Slayer begins a regular-enough presence in the Bay Area, Ethan and Xander moved back to Sunnydale, where he easily establishes friendships with kids named Willow, Jesse and Amy, but somehow with a better perspective than most kids his age even balances out a semi-friendship, barb-exchanging relationship with a young rich girl named Cordelia Chase since he dresses well and his remarks are better than others, less hurtful, going for the intellect rather than the emotion.
Time passes, with his after-dark time spent in learning and training as a mage, a Watcher, an assistant in the local occult and magic store and as the musical instrument player Ethan never found the time to pursue.
The summers saw Alex are spent with the future Charmed Ones, paid for by Ethan who makes up for school-year domesticity by concentrating his chaos trouble for summers. Whenever the girls are away, Gramms teaches white magic to Xander, who admits he doesn’t care for his father’s magic. They both pinky-swear to keep it from Ethan and especially the girls as she still doesn’t want her kids drawn in, but she *must* help ‘her honorary grandson.’ She makes Xander promise to minimize his use of magic, and never use it unless necessary for others, and not to tell anyone she’s teaching him.
In Sunnydale, Catherine Madison is discovered by Ethan, and in exchange for babysitting in the manner of Halliwell in the Bay Area, he teaches her some chaos as well as regular magic. This leads to Amy joining Xander, Jesse and Willow as a quartet instead of a trio. The small group survive the dormant-Hell Mouth years, especially as Xander and Amy are required to be in by nightfall.
By fourteen years of age, Xander is nearing Ripper, Ethan, and Gramms levels of magical skill in different flavors, and is in generally good shape, is ‘fluent and literate’ in American, English, Latin, Ancient Greek, Sumerian, French; can read Egyptian/hieroglyphs, norse runes and Italian and Spanish. Practical mathematics are sufficient to maintain the straight A average expected of him.
“You’re better than they are, so at least humor me in this, Alexander,” Ethan would tell the young boy, who grimaced at the word better, “You know what I mean, Alex; you have a better background and deeper learning in the *real* world, and your mother would have wanted it.” That was almost always enough; the only time Ethan had come close to actually beating his young charge was when Alexander had given his word on something an was in the process of reneging, “Alexander, if you break your word, I’ll beat you all the way back to England and bind your powers and beat you again. I have very few actual stricture, if you actually give your word, you keep; tell the truth unless it’ll kill you or me because it’s easier to remember, though try not to say anything is even better; the use power need not be used for too serious a purpose *once you’ve mastered it* but treat it absolutely seriously in the actual use of it so you don’t yourself suffer stupidly and embarrassingly. And once you’re eighteen, your loyalty once given stays that way until you declare it annulled. So, I’ll help you with keeping your word this time, but give me *your word* that you won’t use it frivolously.”
“I will, my word.”
“Excellent, Alex, now let’s get to work.”
1995 Coming together
May 1995, as school for the year was finishing up, Ethan learned from a seer that a Slayer will be called in the richer part of Los Angeles in early 1996 and would not be already in Council hands. He moves Alexander to LA and enrolls him in Hemery Junior High and enrolls him in him in four different martial arts classes. ‘This will be good practice for his own slayer later,’ he thought to himself, ‘Hopefully we can poach this one before the tweed coats can get to her.’
After settling in and pre-registering Alexander for the upcoming school year, the two males head back to New York on some business, Ethan simply restocking their new place before deciding whether to go strictly mail-order rather than open another shop of the H&R (Harris and Rayne) business empire of the Sunnydale and San Francisco stores.
The trip was memorable, the first time in a while the two had really taken a vacation of sorts, even if business prompted it. Ethan had shown him the usual sights, adding his own commentary on each, and as they approached Times Square, they tripped over a bum, Ethan about to complain when he noticed seven vampires in bad suits closing in.
“Mister Rayne, a pleasure to see you again after all these years,” the black vampire addressed him with a bit of nineteen-thirties style, “I’m sure the boss would love to meet ya, and your apprentice.”
“I really have a pressing engagement, perhaps if you give him my regards, I’ll phone him later to set up an appointment?”
“Funny you are, but I’m afraid not, Mister Rayne, so if the two of you will come with us…”
“Incendiere!” Ethan cried as Alex let out “Arsum!” in two spell variants to toast four of the vampires and send the others running for cover.
The bum suddenly threw himself at one of the vampires, pounding on it and managing to drive a piece of broken crate into its heart, then to Alex and Ethan, “Run!”
The three ran as the Kakistos vampires regrouped at the sudden reduction of numbers. Two blocks later, the indigent started to break away when he is stopped by an intent Ethan Rayne, who raises his hand and mutters a few words.
“Hold, vampire,” the chaos mage intoned, using necromantic magic he’d learnt when he’d assessed the sheer numbers of vampires starting to gather in Sunnydale, “Why did you help us and what is your name?”
“I don’t know…name’s Angel,” the vampire grated out, “Why do you care? I was leaving just now.”
“Well, in spite of …you have a soul!” the mage exclaimed as he cast several types of divination and aura-reading spells, “You’re that Angelus that pissed off the gypsies aren’t you…aren’t you?”
“Y-yes-s…” Angel unwillingly admitted under the power of the mage, his barest survival on rats rendering him unable to resist at all.
“Well, if Kakistos and that Trickster of his are going to be after me, I need Alex safely escorted to California…you’re elected. Let’s go.”
The vampire dejectedly followed the two for about half and hour when they walked behind a butcher’s shop and Ethan pounded on the back door and purchased a gallon of fresh beef blood then ordered him to drink it. They waited another twenty minutes as the vampire turned away and gulped the red substance deeply but ashamedly, energy starting to return to the extremely gaunt features of the undead creature. Ethan began a spell and cast it as the vampire turned back to face them.
“Now, Angelus,” Ethan command, “I place this geas upon you to protect and defend Alexander, to get him to his home in California alive and well, then at his use of the word ‘Spartacus’ you will be released from service.” The vampire winced for an instant, then sighed.
“How am I to get him there?”
“He has money, buy an old car if necessary and drive at night, just do it, I need to spend whatever time is necessary to lead them away.”