Suiting Up 7/?
AN: I don’t remember what the battle suits look like, only what I can dredge up from my memories – they may be wrong.
(One Month Later)
“You were too slow, now get up and assume the first position again.” Xander groaned as he stood up, the back of his head throbbing like Oz’s amp while in his rendition of ‘Fuel’, but he knew that if he was going to get this right, he was going to need to work at it. It had been an entire month since the male Oracle had attacked him with those damned Zerg shits and the female Oracle, for some unknown reason, had leant him a fraction of her power to fight said entities, but the weirdness of that night had not stopped there – Tsunami’s gift to him, the Water of Life, had not only kicked in to help his immune system fight off the toxic effects of the Zerg compounds, but it had also slowed his aging WAY down in that he would, barring massive and truly fatal damage, live for a few dozen centuries more … and it had also had a very unforeseen effect on his body due to the temporary power enhancement.
It had been only two days after the fact that he had first noticed the dull throbbing in his left hand, a sensation that, at first, was more than a little annoying but later grew to be unbearable, and it was while he was on an unarmored patrol with Faith and Buffy that a new ability had sprouted in the form of a beam of solid light, much like the one that Ryoko could produce and Tenchi as well, with the Master Key, and the vampire that was directly in front of him at that time would have attested to it’s very destructive capabilities were he not now dust due to said destructive capabilities – Buffy and Faith had both accused him of holding out on them, but when it was revealed that he didn’t know what was going on, they had insisted that he contact Washu and she had only shrugged at him, calling it a ‘light sword’. This had, of course, raised the question of what, exactly, a ‘light sword’ was, at which point Professor Washu had shown up and had taught them that it was just what it sounded like, a sword made of ‘light’, read energy, that was produced by the individual either at will or by accident – it took time to learn to control this ability without mechanical intervention, but that she had the utmost confidence in his abilities … and that he would start sword training with Yosho the next morning, a Saturday. Incidentally, Buffy had gotten her nose out of joint when Washu said that, no, she could not give the blonde Slayer a light sword and when said Slayer threw a hissy fit, she was promptly turned into a water sprite – Faith had laughed her ass off until Washu turned her into a sprite as well and the pair of them, after having been returned to their human forms, had been very respectful since then.
“You’re not doing too badly, Xander.” He turned and looked at Tenchi, who wore a very carefully hidden smirk, “When I was this far in my training, my head looked like a bruised melon.”
“I’ll show you a bruised melon you mouthy, wishy-washy little…” Xander growled under his breath as he got into position and held the boken at the proper position, watching the old man like a hawk – he’d been told that Yosho was a prince, and older than Ayeka, but more to the fact he was also the best swordsman around, so if Xander had to learn from someone, it was best to learn from him. Unfortunately, though, he liked to enforce his teachings with a solid knock to the back of the head when the student wasn’t ready or correct, and that meant scrambled brains and quickly-learned lessons.
As the lesson went on again, his mind went back to the decisions that, every day after school, he would train with Yosho until dark and then help clean up, leaving only some time to get his homework done, eat and get some sleep, so both Buffy and Faith were having to take up the slack and seemed happy about it, though it wasn’t clear if it was that he was out of the way or if they got to kill more things – Slayers were like that, sometimes. Even as he blocked one shot and parried another that came in like lightning, he felt the ebb and flow of his body’s energy and moved with it, knowing that it would not steer him wrong … and then got whacked in the back of the head again, only this time not by Yosho, but by the peanut gallery, Tenchi, and with a hardened lump of clay, but this didn’t stop him as Yosho had directed his grandson to try and throw him off-balance during the spar and he had only done so once, which accounted for a rather nasty bruise just below his left temple.
Xander’s mind came back to him quickly as Yosho, with his nearly-telepathic way, knew he wasn’t there mentally and lashed out at him, which made Xander react and block the shot and return one in kind, but that shot was blocked and the pair continued to go back and forth – the old goat wasn’t much on leniency in his training and, on some level, Xander could appreciate that, but not when it was his hide that was being bruised left, right and center.
It was Yosho who stopped first, his face a flat mask and boken at ready, but he nodded, “Good – you have learned to let your instincts reign when necessary. Sadly, though, you will never be the swordsman that my grandson is – you are a more combat-oriented person, while he is one who uses his power to avoid a fight.” The former First Prince shrugged and put his wooden sword at his side, which Xander mimicked, “Still, that is not an entirely bad thing – two ways of doing the same tasks and solving the same problems.”
Xander bowed to the older man but snapped back up at the slightest feeling of wind and blocked the incoming strike that was meant to put another bruise, a matching one, on his right temple, “Thank you, sensei, but you need to make sure you don’t give yourself away with tells.” Yosho merely arched an eyebrow at that and Xander jerked his head to the side, causing the lump of clay that Tenchi hurled at him to sail right by and hit the ‘old’ man directly in the forehead, startling him slightly, “And your grandson needs to work on his aim.”
Yosho smiled slightly, “Yes, he does. Tenchi! Finish the floors and then start working on your aim – it is terrible.”
Xander pulled back with a smile even as Tenchi groaned, “But won’t that dirty the floors again?”
“Yes, it will … and you can clean them again after that.” Xander walked away, putting his practice sword up where it was supposed to even as Tenchi went to work on the floors – he enjoyed the family dynamic of the Misaki clan, even if it was more than a little strange, and it almost made him miss his own family. Well, that wasn’t true – he missed his mother on occasion, but not Tony, who had been put in jail for the next thirty four years on all charges; mom had called him at least once a week, to check up on him and to try and convince him to come out East after he graduated to make his bones and be with The Family, but he had let her down gently, saying that organized crime, even if it was a legit front, wasn’t his cup of tea.
It was about ten minutes later, as he walked down from the shrine to the outside of the home that Yosho caught up with him, a small smile on his face, “Xander, I would like to test out your skills in combat, so I have a small task for you.”
Xander tensed up, looking around while accepting the practice sword that Yosho handed him, “And that would be, sensei?”
From above him, a voice sounded out, speaking in the third person, “To defeat Ryoko, The Space Pirate.” He dove forwards and tucked into a roll, coming up to his feet even as Ryoko landed, dressed in her red battle dress and holding a wooden sword herself, “The old man thinks that you can take me, for some odd reason. I’m kinda curious about that myself, actually, so let’s get cracking!” With that, she charged forwards and the fight was on.
Ayeka watched as her sister finished another batch of her delicious cookies and reached in for one of the cooler ones, but the top of her hand was assaulted by the flat of the wooden spoon that Sasami was using for stirring the dough, “No, Ayeka – you have to wait like everyone else.” It was amazing that, even without looking, Sasami could protect her culinary creations and do so with an ease that almost made Ayeka jealous.
“One day, I am going to learn how to cook and then _I_ can do that to you, sister.” Even as she walked out of the kitchen and onto the porch, Ayeka was sure she heard something to the effect of ‘yeah, and Ryo-ohki is giving up carrots permanently’ from Sasami, but decided to ignore it even as her eyes fell on her brother, Yosho, and his newest student, ‘Xander’; it was no secret among them that she did not like Xander at all, mostly due to the fact that he, like Ryoko, refused to give her the respect that was due a princess, saying that she had to give respect in order to get it, but also that Sasami had developed a rather unhealthy interest in the young man from both an alternate reality and America to boot! He was in possession of a smart mouth, an odd sense of humor, a horrid fashion sense, and on top of that he had the unmitigated gall to treat Lord Tenchi as ‘one of the boys’ – this, she decided, was not to be tolerated, and even as Ryoko dropped from the sky, stating the purpose of the duel, she felt a small smile cross her lips, thinking that the lout would get his soon.
When he got to his feet, she was more than a little surprised at the way he not only held the boken with confidence, but also seemed to lose all of his rather oafish qualities and morph into someone that was … darker, more war-like, and at that point Ryoko struck, obviously curbing both her power and speed as she slashed at Xander’s torso. For his part, he merely arched his back more, dipping his head back, and allowed the strike to go over his head before snapping back up straight and attack Ryoko in the upper arm as he spun away, coming back into position as Ryoko lashed back with a counterstrike, which he caught and deflected before striking again, only to have his strike blocked. The pair of them went back and forth like that for nearly a minute, their feet never moving from their positions on the ground until Ryoko lashed at his feet, making him jump over her strike and he lashed out with a strike of his own that hit Ryoko in the hair, making her jerk back and feel the top of her head.
“Hey, what’re you trying to do? Buzz cut me?”
“It’d be an improvement.” Ayeka smirked slightly as the barb struck home and did its job – angering Ryoko, who charged forwards, allowing Xander to spin and let her pass and smacking her on the backside with his boken, “Ole’!”
“Why you little snot!” Ayeka blinked as Ryoko charged him again, her sword slashing but that stopped as he sidestepped, ducked and laid the edge of his weapon against her throat as she passed, “Huh?”
“I win.” He gave the pirate an insufferable grin as he stepped back, Yosho smiling slightly, “So, sir, how was that?”
“Not bad – you made her get angry, which made her movements more easily manipulated.” High praise, coming from her brother, but something else was there, “I do need to ask you, though, not to hit ladies on their posteriors like that – it isn’t nice.”
“And it hurts, too!” Ryoko’s snarled comment got a response of Xander poking his tongue out at her, which made her even angrier, but not so angry that she started trouble, so she just huffed and stormed off.
“Not bad, Alexander,” she said, approaching the pair of them and making sure to use the one name she knew would irritate him, “but beating a lowly space pirate is not a reason to get cocky.”
He arched an eyebrow at her and didn’t rise to her bait, “’Lowly’? She’s the best there is at what she does, Ayeka – I got the better of her because she made a rookie mistake that she wouldn’t make in a real combat situation.” He looked over his weapon even as she silently simmered before he looked back up at her, “Why? Do you think you can do better?”
Something inside her mind snapped and she summoned her mini-log guardians, a veritable forest of them, around her and unleashed their shocking power at him before he had a chance to defend himself, knocking him to the ground and incapacitating him, “Learn your place, you ill-bred commoner! You will treat me with the respect that I deserve.”
“And what kind of respect is that, Ayeka?” She blinked at the tone that was used with her and turned around to find Sasami standing not a meter behind her, still in her apron and holding her wooden spatula, but something else was off – her eyes were hard, glowing, even, and power poured off of her like water out of the faucet, and it was then at it hit her. Gone were Sasami’s royal markings, her bisected and inverted triangle on her forehead, and in its place were a pair of golden dots … which meant that she was not looking at Sasami herself.
“Lady … Tsunami?” The figure in question merely crossed her arms and tapped a single foot as she heard her brother check over Xander’s body, the wooden spatula looking quite threatening by then.
“Partially – why is it that because he treats you as you treat him, you find it necessary to attack him in a way that may KILL him?”
Ayeka winced at the scathing tone her sister / her goddess spoke with, but beyond that, there was something else there in the tone – worry, “Why do you care about a lowly mortal, Lady Tsunami? What is he to you?”
“My guardian and champion.” This floored Ayeka more than she cared to admit, but anything else she or anyone was going to say was cut off with an animalistic snarl from Xander’s position, which she spun around to see … and instantly wished she had not – gone was the student, the goof, the occasional pain in her buttocks, and in his place stood the rage, the lack of civility … the killer that she had seen only twice before while in space, and she felt fear, a fear that was well-founded as he stood up straighter, practice sword still in hand.
“A … Alexander?” He snarled in return, the wooden sword exploding not two inches above where his hand had gripped and from the severed area sprung a blade of pure black energy, pulsing the same eerie way that his now-black eyes were doing so, and a wave of energy washed over his body, changing his clothing as it did. Gone were the simple pants and loose shirt, and in it’s place was a form-fitting black bodysuit, thick for protection yet forgiving for maximum mobility, black gloves and boots taking form on his hands and feet as well; the energy came back and from the feet up it left gunmetal gray patches of armor on the bodysuit around his knees, waist in a belt, up his abdomen and pectorals, on the backs of his gloves and as bracers, and finally covering his back and shoulders before going up past his face, leaving a pair of black marks on each side of his face at his jaw before disappearing.
“Hmm, I was wondering when this would happen.” She didn’t turn to even acknowledge the voice of Lady Tsunami as she walked up and looked the dark-clad young man in front of her, speaking again before adding in slyly, “A little darker than I envisioned, but suitably scary, don’t you think, Ayeka?”
It was like nothing he had ever felt before as far as pain went – in retrospect, he assumed it was what a fly felt like when he, she or it hit a bug zapper; he’d first learned how fun it was to push Ayeka’s buttons and how easily they were pushed, which is why he and Ryoko often did it as much as they did, but apparently he had pushed her just a touch too far this time and she’d turned on those damned mini-logs of hers.
About this time a familiar voice hit his ears and he could tell Tsunami was more than a little annoyed with either him or Ayeka, probably both, and then Ayeka asked a somewhat pointed and personal question, “Why do you care about this mortal, Lady Tsunami? What is he to you?”
Tsunami’s voice was almost glacial as she spoke, “My guardian and champion,” but that was only for those who could hear it because her voice also entered his mind, “Now, Xander – let the power free and do not curb it.” So, with that, he snarled and released the restrains on the swell of power he felt, getting to his feet as he did and glaring at Ayeka while holding the boken in his left hand.
He tried not to flinch as darkness descended on his vision, like someone had turned the brightness on a television set down by half, and then the practice sword in his hand exploded out in black energy, but by then the sensation he was feeling was almost … natural in nature, and he let it go ... and go it did. He felt his clothes constrict and become more sturdy, his shoes becoming boots and his hands becoming encased in gloves, but then the weight of armor could be felt on his chest, knees, arms and waist – it was unlike anything he had ever felt as his vision cleared again so he could see that his energy sword was still there, he was still in front of Ayeka and she looked ready to wet her linens, so he suppressed a laugh and snarled just a little more.
“You see, Ayeka,” Tsunami stated even as Sasami’s body walked forwards, “he isn’t your typical guardian, but rather one for a new era. Besides, I think he looks quite fetching in his uniform.” He suppressed a blush even as he lowered the tip of the sword from it’s at-ready position to where it was across his body, the tip touching just in front of his right foot, but then Sasami shook her head and the twin golden dots on her head were gone, replaced by two blue-green triangles, point down, “Huh? Hey, Xander, why are you dressed like that?”
“Apparently this is my battle uniform, Sasami.” He extinguished his sword with a simple thought and felt the entire process reverse in just a fraction of a second, and then he was standing there with his clothes were they were supposed to be, and the handle of the sword in his left hand having changed slightly to have several engravings, “Cool.”
She smiled at him, “Very. Now, what happened?” Before he could open his mouth, though, she jerked her head off to the side and cried, “Oh, no! My cookies,” and took off for the kitchen, leaving him, Yosho and Ayeka there in the courtyard.
Everyone was silent for a moment, but he broke that silence, “Was that weird to anyone else but me?” Yosho shook his head negative, but Ayeka nodded and he sighed, “Oh, good. Now, are you going to hit me with the bug zapper thing again, or are you going to play nice?”
“I will try, but only if you stop deliberately goading me – it is bad enough with Ryoko doing that, so I don’t need you doing it as well.”
He sighed, “Fine.” With that, he turned and went into the house, muttering, “Take all my fun, why don’t you.”
(2 hours later)
He found himself on the dock, nursing the back of his hand while the cookie taste in his mouth slowly went away – he had found Sasami trying to save a batch of cookies that she had left in the oven just a few minutes too long, and when he tried to relieve her of the ‘rejects’, he fell subject to her martial law of the kitchen and was punished with several slaps of the spatula to the back of his hand, which hurt. The worst part, however, was that he was exiled to the dock and without any cookies!
“You too, huh?” He turned and saw Ryoko, dressed in a pair of pants and a blouse, floating towards him, her cat-like eyes pained and the back of her right hand was red, “I’ll tell ya, I feel sorry for whoever married her – she may act all cute and everything, but rile her up and it’s gonna hurt.”
“Yeah, but now to the important part – did you get any cookies?” Ryoko shook her head and he sighed, “Damn. Well, you still mad from earlier?”
She shook her head again, “Nah, I made a mistake, getting angry like that, and I paid for it. Still, I have to admit that your little show with Ayeka made it all worth while, though. First time?”
He nodded, “Yeah, and it felt really weird, too. Who picks the battle suits out?”
She shrugged, “Dunno, but at least you get pants – mine’s a dress without full tights, only thigh-highs, garters and boots.” He arched a brow at her and she shrugged, “Hey, sometimes it gets drafty, you know?”
“I’d bet, but still, skin-tight?” It wasn’t that he was modest or anything (what he wore under his battle armor had long since taken care of that), but some parts of his anatomy were plainly visible that he wished were not.
Ryoko smirked at that, “Personally, I’d think Sasami had something to do with that.”
“Nah – She only shows up when necessary, but kiddo has a somewhat weird imagination … and coming from me, that’s saying something.” Ryoko stretched out, something that was almost feline in nature, and yawned, “Still, she likes ya, so that must count for something.”
“Yeah, that means that both she and her mother get to try and powder my ribs.” Ryoko chuckled at that but soon stopped, looking around somewhat worriedly, which made him reach for what was left of his practice sword, “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know – something’s … off.” With that, she shifted into her battle dress and he switched over to his own, finding it to come rather easily this time and both ignited their swords, “Ten to one they’re here for Ayeka.”
“No bet – ten gets you twenty they’re her for Sasami.” Even as he turned, he was surprised to see a pair of hash marks on each side of his jaw in the reflection of the lake as he and Ryoko both backed up towards land, and he wondered just when those had happened.
“Nah, that’s a sucker bet.” They actually made it to land and that was when a trio of beams of light appeared on the dock in front of them, sending them both into ready positions, which they fell out of when the forms became familiar – Emperor Asuza, Emperor of Jurai, and his Queens, Empresses Misaki and Funhao, all of them looking quite unfazed at their greeting.
Ryoko looked at him, “Well, maybe we both win?”
He shook his head and deactivated his battle suit and sword, “Nah – two no-bets. Emperor, Ladies.” Misaki smiled at him brightly, waving delightedly, while Funhao was more reserved in her nod, but Asuza merely scowled at him, which wasn’t anything new.
“Hiya, guys. What’s wrong?” Ryoko, mistress of tact, struck again but was ignored even as the front door of the house slammed open and a blue-topped blur exited the door, which Xander was forced to jump out of the way of as it charges Empress Misaki.
“Sasami, my little baby!” The pair of bone-crushers embraced even as Ayeka came out of the house at a more sedate pace, greeting her mother and family in much the same fashion, though she was somewhat worried about why they were on Earth … a worry they alls hared.
It was Tenchi who finally broached the question and he looked very nervous about it, “So, what’s up? Another assassination plot?”
Asuza snorted, “Of course not. My queens wanted to visit Earth for an undisclosed reason and, as they were coming here anyway, I decided that it was time for you and I to have a very long ‘chat’ about your intentions with my eldest daughter.” With that, Emperor Asuza draped his left arm over Tenchi’s shoulders and lead him away for ‘the talk’, leaving Xander alone amongst some of the most powerful females in that section of the multi-verse – frankly, he was tempted to go find a rock to crawl under and hide for a while, as no good could come of it.
Misaki had to repress a giggle as Xander, who was currently sitting between her youngest daughter and his sister Empress, animatedly described what had been going on for the past few months – it was rather cute the way the young man was judging the distance between his current position and all of the possible points of escape (windows, doors, walls and the like) and in the back of her mind she made a mental note to train him in the diplomatic form of escaping from an undesirable situation. It was at that point that Sasami began to state just what Xander had been doing for the past month, which piqued her interest as there were not a great many people who were capable of creating an energy sword of any type, “And today he and Ryoko fought, but he won and then Ayeka hit him with her logs.”
This struck her as odd, “Why would she ever do that?”
“Apparently I annoyed her once too often with my ‘churlish lack of respect for a lady of her station’; personally, I’ve told her she needs to lose the snobbish act, but apparently I am too low-born for my opinions to count for much.” She narrowed her eyes for a moment but he apparently saw that and held up his hands, “I know it was a little out of line on my part, but I’ve always said that to get respect, you give respect.”
“Oh, she knows that lesson very well, Xander, but apparently she needs to re-learn it.” Misaki turned to where Ayeka had been hiding for most of the afternoon, her room, but then looked back, shaking her head, “Another time, perhaps. Now, Xander, why do you not use your sword with your armor?”
He frowned and then sighed, “No can do, Empress – first time I did that I was not in my armor and it worked fine, but next time I tried it, it ripped through my armor like Ryo-ohki through a pile of carrots.” The cabbit in question poked it’s head up from the lap of her daughter at the mention of both her name and it’s food of choice, but when no attention was paid to her, she went back to sleep, “Needless to say, I was less than pleased.”
Funhao smiled at this, “And speaking of your armor, are you sure there is no way that you could provide us with schematics of it? We could be _most_ generous for them.” Misaki smiled at her sister’s lack of preamble to her question – after seeing what his armor was capable of, it had been made paramount among them that they acquire a working prototype or at least blueprints of it at any cost, but he had yet to cave to any request, no matter how … appealing … it may have been. Exactly how the Princess of Halvenist, a virgin at 17, as pure a driven snow and very physically appealing, had gotten into his sealed room was a bit of a mystery, but the investigation was still on-going and her father was more than a little irked that she had failed in ‘her assignment’.
Xander gave Funhao a smile, “Not bad – you need to bat the eyes a little more and put a little soul into them, but otherwise you have the ‘puppy dog eyes’ down pat. Of course, seeing as I helped perfect the maneuver,” he went on even as Misaki giggled at Funhao’s somewhat irked expression, as that very same look made their husband cave each and every time, “I can be a little forgiving.”
Misaki still continued to hold back a giggle even as Sasami turned to Xander and apparently hit him with the same look, “Like this?” She lost her bout with the giggles as he proceeded to melt in place.
She watched the small group with a look that could have frozen a planet in its proverbial tracks – they had been plotting against her for a long time and Tokimi knew that it was only a matter of time before they attacked her directly. It was time for her to take precautions against The Powers, Tsunami and Washu … long past time, actually.
(Later – Sunnydale Library)
Even as he walked into the library, he could feel the tension in the room go through the roof and it made him stop and scan the area – Faith was being held by Linda, Giles and Willow were speaking in tones that were meant to calm Buffy down from where she was angrily pacing back and forth, Oz and Cordelia were off to the side, looking through a briefcase and, as one, they all looked up at him, “What happened.”
“Faith killed a man.” He looked over at Buffy, who bit out the short sentence, and heard Faith begin to cry even harder into Linda’s shoulder, “I mean, she just drove a wooden stake through his heart!”
Xander blinked his eyes once, twice, and then sighed, turning to Oz, “Help?”
The werewolf looked up from the file he was reading, “Deputy Mayor ran into a fight between Slayers and vamps, got staked by Faith when Buffy threw him at her.” Score one for Oz, master of stoicism and calm delivery.
Xander looked over at Linda, who nodded, and then over at Buffy, “He deliberate ran towards the fight?”
Buffy took a breath and nodded, “Yes.”
“And you threw him at her?”
Another breath followed by a less-assured, “yes.”
Xander took a breath and shrugged as he let it out, “Collateral damage as an unintended casualty of his own stupidity - no harm, no foul.” That said, he walked over towards Faith to sit next to her, but didn’t get too far as Buffy materialized in front of him, as if by magic, looking incredulously at him.
“’No harm, no foul’? How?!”
Xander sighed and shrugged again, “What person in their right mind would run TOWARDS a fight between a pair of Slayers and vampires? If he was stupid enough to do that, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over his death.”
“He had a soul!” (AN: I’m sorry, but I had to use it for someone else other than Deadboy.)
Xander rolled his eyes as, once again, her defense for some things she didn’t like came into play, “Yes, maybe, but do you know WHY he ran at you?”
Cordelia took that point to speak up, “It’s all here in his briefcase – Mayor Wilkins is some kind of an evil guy who wants to ascend to demonhood. He’s been planning it for a long time now, like, a hundred years or so.”
Xander frowned at this, “Anything else? Records and such?”
She shook her head, “Nah, just IRS stuff.”
“You’re taking this remarkably well, Xander.” He turned and looked at Giles, who was frowning at him, “Faith did just kill a man.”
“By accident, a death which Buffy is also responsible for by the fact she threw him at Faith – we can cry over it later, after we’ve dealt with this new problem.” Xander felt like a real son of a bitch saying it, but unfortunately, it was the truth, so he spared a second to walk over to Faith, hug her even as she hugged Linda, and then walked over to where Oz and Cordy were, “Let me see those tax records, Cordy – we may have an easy solution to this.”
AN: Okay, here’s another chapter in the can. Happy New Years to you all, and R&R, AR.