A Shadow in the Night
This is it: the big finish. Wow, I'm actually a little emotional about it. Thank you for all the great reviews. All of you have made posting this story more than worth it. There are now three sequels in the works ( I know, I know, saying doesn't mean posted), and I swear I'll start on the anthology soon. If nothing else, the first sequel, tentatively titled "Daddy's Girl" already has a legion of one-shots that won't fit in the much more complicated plot-line.
Beacon Calling Me Home by BigDestiny
Part ten - A Shadow in the Night
"So what's the plan, boss?" Robin asked. He, Areena, and Xander were slowly trying to circle Ra's Al Ghul's Lazarus-boosted manservant, while Jesse covered the evil super-villain himself. The slow movements seemed to be working, because a confused Ubu was looking from one to another to another, sniffing in confusion, but not knowing who to go for first.
"He doesn't have one," Al Ghul jeered. "Alexander has led you all in here to die, and doesn't have a single idea of how to stop--"
Jesse unexpectedly reversed the angle of his blaster, slamming the rifle butt into Al Ghul's face and knocking him unconscious. "Shut. Up."
"Yeah," Xander sighed. "Too bad about him being right. I got nothing." Well, almost nothing. Areena's power was still flowing through him, hopefully providing enough protection to allow him to match the manservant's power. If he was very careful.
"I stand by my 'shut up'." Jesse then whirled the gun around and opened fire on Ubu. As Xander had already suspected, even the Wayne designed rifle wasn't enough to put a dent in Al Ghul's manservant. All it accomplished was to make Ubu decide who to charge at.
"Jesse, move!" Areena called. Jesse did as ordered, just in time to avoid Ubu being blasted past him into the solid granite behind.
"We are running out of cave walls," Areena pointed out. "We need to bring the ceiling down on him."
"That'll bring down all the guys on the upper levels. Right into the Lazarus pit," Xander told her. "I can handle being screwed, as long as it's no more than double penetration." He threw himself at the still confused manservant, landing a solid punch that sent Ubu flying back into the ruined wall. Xander leapt in the air as Ubu bounced back, sending both of his legs kicking out to nail the manservant yet again.
Unfortunately, Ubu was less staggered than Xander was expecting, and on his next bounce out, punched the Batman right in the chest. This time it was Xander who was flying backwards, and he was sure he'd heard something crack on impact. A pain-free breath seemed to discount that until Xander glanced down to see the impact of Ubu's fist displayed on his suit like a broken windshield.
Robin had launched his grapple gun, and swung towards Ubu. He put both of his boots into his kick, but with the Lazarus power, Ubu was much too solid for an ordinary human. Ubu was unfazed, and the collision with this unexpectedly immovable object left Robin skidding out of control along the cave floor.
Xander charged Ubu again. "Areena! Hon, I hate to ask, but we're getting to crunch time." Ubu landed another blow, and Xander's head was ringing. "Is there any way you can use your powers to get this Lazarus stuff out of his system?"
Ubu took another swing at Xander, but Areena blasted him back. "No good, Xander. The Lazarus chemicals are too dense, on a magical as well as chemical level. I couldn't move them, even if I risked a karmic backlash."
Xander considered the chemical nature of Lazarus for the first time. Damn, I wish Will was here to translate for me.... "I don't suppose this stuff is magnetic, is it?"
Xander launched himself at Ubu again. Punches were thrown, but fortunately only Xander's landed. Xander tried to use his steel reinforced boots, but once again kicking seemed to be the one thing Ubu was very good at deflecting (which raised the question of why I'm still doing this). Ubu grabbed Xander's heel and pulled. The boot was too solidly built to be crushed, but Xander spun in a three-quarter circle before being thrown into Areena's arms.
The demigoddess wasn't quite prepared to catch him, and they both tumbled to the ground. Ubu tried to approach, but Jesse fired off another few shots off, distracting the manservant. "Xander! Man, are you okay?"
Xander shook his aching head, trying to clear it. "Yeah. Yeah, just all the blood rushed to my--" Xander stopped short, an idea forming. No. Something that simple couldn't work, could it?
Xander stood up and activated his communicator. "Andrew!" The guy wasn't here, so Mal must have sent him back to base. Had he arrived yet?
"Xander?" A puzzled Andrew replied.
"You back at the cave?"
"Just. What's wrong?"
"Oh, you know. Same old apocalypse."
"God," Andrew gasped. Xander saw Robin stagger painfully towards him, with the most amusing guilty look on his face. Xander guessed Mal might have underestimated their situation in order to lull Andrew out of the danger zone. "I can be right back there."
"No," Xander ordered. "I need you there. Log into the bat-copter's remote systems."
"What are you doing?" Mal asked.
"Physics." Ubu charged at Xander, but Jesse, sensing that Xander needed a second, opened fire at the manservant, keeping Ubu off guard and once again away from Xander.
"I'm in," Andrew reported.
"I need it down here, now. Areena! Get Jesse and Mal out of here."
Areena turned to him, horrified. "The second I leave, your protection is gone."
"I'll only need a second," Xander assured her. "But this isn't gonna work if I have to keep track of the three of you while I'm doing it."
"Xander!" Jesse worried.
Xander could hear the bat-copter approaching. "I'll be okay. Trust me! Move!"
Mal and Jesse were about to object again, but they disappeared. Areena gave Xander one last, concerned look. "Good luck, Batman." And vanished.
Xander charged at Ubu a final time, this time letting speed and agility make up for the fact that he couldn't allow the manservant to close on him again or he was dead.
Ubu swung. Missed.
Xander stayed close. Just close enough, until--
The bat-copter flew into the cave, needing little effort to push itself through the too small door. It hovered over the Lazarus pit like a protective spirit. Xander was glad to find his hypothesis validated: there was more than enough room in this cave for the bat-rotors to go 'round.
"God, I hope this works." He leapt for his primary bat-winch, still laying near Al Ghul's unconscious form.
The rotors of the bat-copter were working up a good wind. Xander used that wind to go airborne. Not long, just enough to make a jump clear over Ubu.
Landing right at his back.
Xander grabbed Ubu's shirt, and YES! Al Ghul had put a harness there, to lower his manservant into the Lazarus pit. Xander latched the belt end of his winch to it. The manservant tried to grab for it, but couldn't reach.
Ubu's Lazarus-fogged brain forgot the cable on his back. He turned to drive his fist into Xander's face.
Batman fired the other end of the bat-winch straight up into the air.
Ubu was suddenly pulled into the air as the bat-winch caught in the copter's rotor blades and spun the manservant around in circles. Batman called into his communicator. "The blades have a top speed of 1500 rotations per second. I wanna see it." He winced at the ginormous sound being made from Ubu and the copter's engines, and added: "And turn on the whisper-mode. It's getting ear-splitting in here.
It was obvious from the silence that Andrew didn't get it. But Batman heard Areena knowingly gasp, "Oh," and the blades not only sped up, they quieted, leaving only the repeated thumps to hammer on Batman's ears.
There wasn't enough room in there to swing a manservant, and Ubu was getting violently battered in circles. Even his harness was giving out, and Batman hoped it would last just a little longer until--
There. The centrifugal force of the trip was causing the Lazarus chemicals to be rapidly expelled from Ubu's body. Batman waited until he thought it was mostly gone (an almost arbitrary moment, admittedly). Then he fired his backup winch (getting one hell of a workout lately), at Ubu and pulled the manservant to the ground. Ubu was, surprisingly, still alive. Definitely out for the count, but except for minor bruises and scrapes, Batman had yanked Ubu down at exactly the right moment.
I can't believe I just pulled that off.
Batman started laughing.
"Batman? Xander, come in," came Andrew's worried voice over the communicator.
"God," Batman laughed. "Yeah, I'm here. Ubu's down. Get the copter back to base. I'll clear things up here, and have the Batmobile back at the cave as soon as I can."
"I'll have the champagne on ice for when you get here," Alfred called out.
"It'll have to wait," Batman chuckled. "When I get back, I'm having a bath!" Batman pulled a few yards of wire out of his utility belt, and used it to tie up Ra's and Ubu (though he was sure at least one of them wouldn't be waking up any time soon. He was saved the trouble of having to drag them up out of the cave by the sound of approaching sirens, becoming more audible as the sound of the bat-copter receded (although Batman silently hoped the sirens would be shut off before they started battering his already aching head).
Batman went back to the center of the shaft leading up to the surface, remembering only at the last second to pull his cowl back over his head.
"Down here," he replied, in his deep 'Batman' voice that was becoming second nature. He went to fire his bat-winch again, but it had finally had enough that day. Batman chuckled as he watched the power-drained winch fly only six feet before plummeting to the ground.
Batman jogged up the ramp around the cave shaft, stopping only briefly to punch out the goon who's gun he'd liberated. He ran into a SWAT team, and gave them directions to the two at the bottom of the cave. He reached the surface, passed by several small groups of cops, until he reached the Batmobile and--
The now-elderly man turned to face the rejuvenated Caped Crusader. "Been retired for several years now, Batman," he pointed out.
Batman shrugged. "Force of habit?" he suggested.
"I don't think that's it," Gordon replied. The way he was looking at Batman. No, not Batman. He was looking at Xander.
Batman's eyes widened, ever so slightly. "Why would you say that?"
Gordon backed up, putting them even farther out of the hearing range of those nearby. "Batman, even if I hadn't been a Police Commissioner long enough to notice several coincidences in your arrival here, it can't have escaped your notice that I've gotten older, whereas you've actually gotten younger."
Xander was very glad his mask concealed how much he was blushing. "I'm glad it was that, and not the lack of experience that gave me away."
"Not at all," Gordon declared. "I'd imagine your father is very proud."
"I'd hope so," Batman quipped. "I mean, I just caught Ra's Al Ghul. If that doesn't impress him, I don't know what I'm gonna do for an encore."
The next couple of days brought visitors. Mal's friends showed up, understandably concerned that they hadn't arrived in time to help. Well, Max had been concerned. Kyle had silenced his lover (yes 'lover', and didn't that make Mal go all warm and gooey) by oh-so-reasonably pointing out, "MAAAAX. It's BATMAN."
Willow and the others returned shortly thereafter, rushing in mostly with the same concern the Roswell gang had. While Alfred gave the gang their much anticipated tour of the bat-cave, Xander and Jesse took Willow on a walk on the grounds to catch up. Wesley, unfortunately, hadn't survived Wolfram and Hart's counter-attack, but the rest were alright. In fact, Angel was currently sulking over Faith and Willow giving CPR to what was apparently the wrong person.
"Honestly," Willow griped. "The last we heard, Lindsay was working with Angel to help take Wolfram and Hart down. How were WE supposed to know Angel had put a big 'do not resuscitate' order on him."
Xander laughed. "So how's Kennedy? I haven't seen her yet." He knew he'd said the wrong thing when Willow's expression hardened.
"Kennedy's an obnoxious bitch," she replied, with venomous sweetness. "Thanks for asking."
Xander winced. "Sorry. Bloom doing the off-the-rose thing?"
"Off, and stomped on the floor." Jesse had been holding Xander's hand. At this, he self-consciously removed his hand. Willow saw it immediately. "No you don't, buster. You don't need to do the whole de-coupling thing for me. Even if you did... it's... you guys!" She started crying again, and hugging them again.
"It's pretty incredible, isn't it?" Xander noted, and he was crying a little, too.
"Pretty," Jesse concurred, though since his being dead wasn't as traumatic for him as being alive, he was the only one not crying. "You know what's funny, though. All three of us playing for the same team."
Willow grinned. "That depends on how you pick the team. We wouldn't be, if you were choosing based on your inexplicable penis-love."
Jesse turned to Xander, puzzled. "Wait! Kennedy was a girl?" At Xander's bemused nod, Jesse turned back to Willow with a playful, disapproving look. "Willow, they're just so fun. And useful. And BIG. No, I think you're the inexplicable one."
Willow grinned, putting a determined finger on Jesse's chest. "Listen, mister. I'm the most powerful witch on this hemisphere. I don't need any damned penis." And just like that, Jesse was laughing so hard, he nearly fell over.
"Master Xander." Alfred was there, as suddenly as always. Xander turned to see him. "My apologies at disturbing you, but there seems to be an emergency."
At that moment, the bat-signal, which had been reflected around the manor via discreet mirrors, flooded Xander in very not-discreet light. He sighed, "Andrew promised me he'd get rid of that thing. Subtle, it is not."
"Master Andrew and Master Mal have been quite... distracted as of late," Alfred reminded.
"True story," Xander laughed. "We're lucky their bedroom's sound-proof."
"Andrew is very loud during sex," Jesse confirmed with a wince.
"Mal," Xander spoke into his watch-communicator. Mal's had clicked on the second Xander spoke, so he, Willow, Alfred, and Jesse could hear muffled curses and Mal rooting through his clothes to find his own watch-comm. Just to play with Mal's head, Xander decided not to make a single sound until Mal had the watch found and on.
"Yes?" Mal asked, with unusual bite.
"Get dressed," Xander told him. "Emergency."
"Great," Mal replied, unenthusiastically.
Xander laughed again. "I'm kidding. Stay where you are; I can handle this one solo."
Xander could almost here Mal roll his eyes. "Like I'd miss this. I'll meet you down in the cave."
"Don't say I didn't give you a way out." Xander gave Jesse a kiss, and hugged Willow. "Keep dinner warm. This won't take long."
Xander raced towards his study. When he got there he briefly flipped open a statue to reveal a button to open the panel behind his bookcase. The panel opened and Xander leapt down a fireman's pole. As he descended into the bat-cave, he felt adrenaline flood through his veins. There was no longer any fear that he was going to screw this up.
Xander was Batman. And Batman was home.