Universal Constant: Mad Scientists
Archive: XanderZone, http://www.wolf-walker.net, CrossGate, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sirius_writings, Twisting the Hellmouth
Rating: PG-13, as usualDisclaimer: None of them are mine, although there are many interesting (and twisted) things I could do if I owned both Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Stargate: SG-1. Also, any similarities to other fics – if there are any – are purely unintentional.
Author’s Note: My muses left for an early (and long) holiday vacation, and the ones they sent from the temp agency have been giving me some weird
ideas. I have no idea where this came from or if it will go anywhere from here. For now, it’s just a one-shot to get this scene out of my head. For Buffy,
timing is just post-Initiative (by a matter of hours), so Season 4. For SG-1,
timing isn’t particularly critical, as the individuals involved have been around for longer than the SGC’s known of them, anyway. The only important thing to know is that this fic very much pre-dates "Fragile Balance."
A/N 2: No Anya. As in some of my other fics, she disappeared prior to the Ascension (as in canon) and simply never came back. Xander has his own apartment. Also, this was originally going to be a humorous piece in a different setting, but the muses vetoed it. Wonderful, aren’t they?
Summary: Everybody confides in Xander, but where does Xander turn?
After making sure the last of the Initiative’s surviving personnel had been escorted to safe hands at the Sunnydale Armory – any other time I’d laugh at putting ‘safe’ and ‘Sunnydale Armory’ in the same sentence, but at this point, they’re probably still more comfortable on a military base than they would be with saying ‘That’s need to know – and you don’t’ to civilian docs
– Xander made his way home to his apartment. He knew they would be moved later, and could only hope it was to a better facility, and hands that were more honestly caring than Dr. Margaret Walsh’s had ever been. He wanted a shower, wanted to scrub off everything that even hinted of Dr. Psychobitch’s pet project. Adam – how fucking pretentious is that?! Turning her people into lab rats.
With shaking hands, the man stripped off his clothes, making note to find somewhere to burn them later. Stepping into the shower, he let the hot water cascade over him, leaning his head against one shower wall. He didn’t know what the other Scoobies were doing at the moment, and couldn’t bring himself to care, right now more concerned with the soldiers they had saved that night. These people had been betrayed by someone they had trusted, a woman whose concerns should have included the survival and well-being of her personnel, even if she couldn’t find it in herself to make it a top priority. No, bit by bit she had made them capture Sunnydale’s nightlife – not a safe proposition, but that was expected – made them participate in gathering the ‘components’ for the very project that would kill the essence of who they were, and create something completely different. God, that sounds familiar. Only difference is,
he’s not human, so it doesn’t exactly count as scientific cannibalism… not that that helped at the time. Hell, I should at least be honest with myself, right? I admit it… I can handle an oncoming apocalypse, but waist-high grey guys with spaceships terrify me. Correction, one particular waist-high grey guy. Yeah, I can sympathize with the lab rats, here. Of course, this one also pissed me off. I wish I could know for sure that he’d learned the hazards of pissing off the ‘lower beings,’ but somehow… I doubt it. Two months of unending experiments with the resident Roswellian psychopath, one month – and a bit more – of what passes for counseling with other, friendlier, greys… still strange. Heh, there’s a weird thought. “Abducted by aliens and can’t forget it? Call 1-800-Asgard Shrink for friendly, confidential counseling aboard your nearest battle cruiser.” I don’t even want to think about what Psychobitch could have imagined had she teamed up with Loki. Better to stay away from that.
Realizing that he’d actually managed to finish his shower in the midst of his mental ramblings, Xander dried off, dressed and made his way to the living room. He knew that he should eat, but with everything he’d seen in the Initiative complex, food was the last
thing on his mind. He needed to talk to someone about this, but military shrinks hadn’t exactly been made available to the Scoobies; frankly, he wouldn’t trust them even if counseling services had
been offered. The non-disclosure agreement they’d all signed made seeking out civilian help completely impossible. He could only thank God that he’d provided the Heart and not the Mind of the Unity spell… he didn’t want the rest of the Scoobies to know the truth about the past summer. The problem was… that past summer had a lot to do with his reaction to the Initiative, and the people he could talk to about both were not only limited; they were non-existent.Well, hell.
With still-shaking hands, Xander reached for the item that had been his gift from Thor. He couldn’t tell Thor about the Initiative, that much was true, but he could say that something had happened recently to remind him of his time in Loki’s care. This was presuming that Thor’s ship was close enough to respond, and that Thor even remembered the device in Xander’s possession. For all that had happened while he was with Loki, Xander liked the Asgard Fleet Commander. There had always been something strangely calming about Thor, and the eldest Scooby had never quite figured out what that something was. Regardless, now would be a good time to renew their acquaintance. Hell, he wouldn’t even mind if Thor beamed him up… wouldn’t demand the pre-arranged bribe of Loki doing his best impression of a piñata.
Xander activated the gift, effectively paging Thor, while laughing at the irony. It’s official. God has a sense of humor. How else would you explain the Zeppo being able to page the High Commander of the Asgard Fleet… and expecting him to respond?
Grabbing a blanket from his bed, Xander curled up on the couch, trying to combat a chill that had nothing to do with the weather… and pondering the Universal Truth that every culture has at least one mad scientist.
A beam of light heralded the arrival of a small grey being into Xander’s living room. Though unexpected, Xander’s call had not been unwelcome, and Thor did not hesitate to order his ship close enough to Earth for the beaming technology to be effective. Thor had been fascinated by the young human on whom so much Asgard technology seemed to have no effect. Xander remembered everything Loki had done to him, and the High Commander realized that – where Loki’s work was concerned – such a thing was more curse than blessing. This one – young even by human standards – had eyes as old as any of Thor’s people… and had succeeded in raising such a resistance in Loki’s hidden workspace as to draw the attention of certain highly-placed Asgard.
To say that such actions were unusual would be a grave understatement, and Thor had decided to keep watch over the young one – insofar as anyone could if one were not on the same planet as the protected individual. Even knowing that it was unlikely Xander had called him for some trivial reason, he was not expecting the sight that met him. He had only seen that blankness in the human’s eyes once before… shortly after the liberation of everyone who had been held in Loki’s lab. Thor had looked in Xander’s eyes and seen desolation and cold determination… and a deep, haunting pain as he faced off against Thor and his allies, uncertain at that point whether they had come to help or harm. He had been held the longest, Thor learned later… no one had expected to hear from him and none would have been looking. The rest would have been there no longer than a week, but the young man had seen Loki’s worst attributes for nearly two months; as such, he’d felt responsible for the others and that responsibility had aided him until he truly realized that Thor had no wish to be a threat to him.
Then… then Thor had seen the pain that he saw now. It was Xander’s retreat into himself in an attempt to deal with that suffering he had previously kept out of his conscious mind, those events that he had pushed away until such a time as he had ‘the luxury of being able to deal with them.’What has caused this here? What reason would he have to know this pain in his own home?
The Asgard realized that Xander wasn’t seeing him, was not himself in this time or place. His worry drove him to give in to an urge previously indulged on only one occasion. Slowly, Thor reached out a hand to the boy, and lightly touched his face. Soft though the contact was, it was enough to draw Xander out of his memories and into the present – his apartment, specifically his living room, complete with one Asgard High Commander.
“You know, Thor, that wouldn’t be a good idea under normal circumstances.” Despite the statement, Thor noticed that he didn’t object to the touch, and actually leaned more deeply into it. Unusual.
“Xander.” Thor had only called him ‘Alexander Harris’ once. Having been quickly corrected, he never repeated the initial mistake. It had been quite apparent that Xander was not fond of his full name… and that he trusted Thor for reasons even the young man did not find particular clear. “What has happened?”
“Why don’t you take a seat on the couch, Thor; make yourself comfortable. Do you want anything to drink, eat? I don’t have much, but it would be something other than your usual food cubes.”
“Right, no food. Sorry.” Xander brought a hand up to rub at his head, and Thor wondered if that was the sign of trust which he believed it to be, knowing how wary the human was of showing any perceptible weakness to all save a select circle of confidants.
“I’m not sure how coherent I’m going to be, Thor. It’s… been a long night. You really mean what you said before… if I needed to talk? Especially about Loki?”
“Well, actually, this isn’t… directly… related to Loki, but it reopened that wound.”
“You had no physical wounds when you left the Belisknor,
“That’s not… Thor, that just means that current events refreshed old memories… to the point that I have trouble thinking about anything else. I can’t really tell you a whole lot, given that I’ve promised to keep these events to myself but… let’s just say that the Asgard aren’t the only ones with scientists who believe that the lives of a few individuals mean nothing if those individuals stand in the way of a greater scientific achievement. I knew people like that existed here, but until now I hadn’t really had an up-close and personal encounter with the results of one of their experiments. It just… God, Thor, I don’t even know what to say.”I do not often find myself lacking for words, even when the current ‘slang’ eludes me, but I do not know what to say to Xander Harris now.
“Tell me something, Thor.” Xander’s voice was a mere whisper.
“If I am able.” Xander knows what that means. Though on occasion annoyed by it, he has always accepted that there are certain things of a military nature which I cannot share with him.
“The others on your ship, and in your fleet… you care for them, right? You see it as your responsibility to make sure – even though your job isn’t the safest in the galaxy – that your people have the best possible chance of completing their job and coming home alive.”
“In battle, Xander, casualties are inevitable. I know that they will happen. That does not mean that I ignore chances to minimize those casualties and make my people as safe as possible.”
“That’s what I thought. And if you came upon someone – a scientist – who was deliberately endangering your people, changing the very essence of what makes the individuals who they are, all the while proclaiming that these actions would save your entire race?”
Thor listened as Xander continued on in a whisper, hinting at things that sickened the Fleet Commander, without saying them outright. The young man named nothing – be it government, city, installation or individual. Nonetheless, the picture soon came into focus for the little grey alien. He said little, but always maintained that rarest of connection with the human… touch.
Motionless save for the occasional nod, Thor watched, noting when the voice began to slow and the eyes to close, marveling at the trust implied in such things. He’d seen Xander stay awake for much longer than this, when the two had first met. This young one has no reason to trust any Asgard, and yet, he trusts me. How? Why?
Seeing Xander’s eyes drift shut and stay that way, Thor stood and carefully nudged the young one just enough so that he was lying down on the couch. Gathering a second blanket, he covered the human and let his hand drift to the Scooby’s head for one last – almost paternal – touch. Rest easy, Xander. May your dreams have fewer demons than your world.
Beaming back to the Belisknor,
Thor resolved to post more guards at Loki’s current residence. He couldn’t kill him, but he could do his best to make sure the other Asgard would never escape. One less mad scientist to concern us.