The Hero Biz
Title: The Hero Biz
Author: Gaeriel Mallory
Fandoms: Buffy and X-men the Movie
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy, Inc. X-men is the property of Marvel, Bryan Singer, and a whole bunch of other people.
Continuity: After X2 for X-men and up to the series finale for Buffy.
Notes: I just can’t get rid of storylines in which Buffy and Scott are related. A little reworking of this “shared ‘verse” that takes into account the rest of the Buffy and Angel timeline and X2. I’m not sure if I’ll be adding to this or not; we shall see.
Buffy Summers got of the taxi and slung her duffel bag over her shoulder as she picked up her suitcase with the other hand. She paid the driver and watched as he drove back down the long driveway and through the gates. The building she was standing in front of was more of a mansion than anything else she could think of. Though unlike the other mansions she had known, it was a lot more inviting – possibly because she knew there would be no Hell Goddess or master vampire on the inside waiting to kill her.
Of course, those mansions were also so much rubble along with the rest of Sunnydale, California. The town had existed for hundreds of years, starting out as a Spanish mission, and she and her friends had reduced it to a giant crater in the ground in less than a day while defeating the First Evil. She figured it was a fair trade off: entire town destroyed but world saved.
In the process, Willow Rosenberg, her best friend and uber-witch, had performed a spell that had activated all the potential Slayers on the globe. She was no longer the Chosen One, or even one of the Chosen Two, as Faith had called it. There were now hundreds, possibly thousands of girls out there with the special abilities to fight the dark.
Which brought her back to the present, standing in front of Charles Xavier's School for the Gifted. There was no Slayer here but there had been several in New York City which was an hour away. She had found them and given them the spiel that her first Watcher Merrick had given her all those years ago, heavily edited. Though it was not word for word, the gist of it was the same and she had sent most of the girls on a bus headed towards Cleveland where they had set up a safe house and training school for the new Slayers. With those who had chosen not to go, she had given them the contact information for the Cleveland headquarters, just in case.
No, the reason why she was in Westchester, New York, was because she had promised her cousin Scott that she would come visit. He had heard about the untimely demise of Sunnydale and had been frantically trying to get a hold of either her or her sister Dawn. Somehow, he had managed to reach Anne in Los Angeles who had passed the message along.
A short vacation away from her Slayer duties was just what she needed to unwind. Even Giles had agreed and had urged Buffy to take a break and return to “a normal life” for a little bit. Whatever normal was anymore. Buffy rang the doorbell and waited. She heard two sets of voices, both male, dimly through the door and she grinned as she recognized one of them as Scott's. As soon as the door opened, she hugged her cousin, dropping her suitcase to do so. She briefly saw another figure disappear through a doorway, most likely the other voice she had heard.
"God, how long has it been?" he asked her with a grin.
"Years," she answered. "And you haven't changed a bit. Still wearing those red glasses, I see. Could you get any more unhip? At least change the color every once in awhile."
His smile wavered a bit at that and he bent down to pick up her suitcase. "What can I say? I like red." He pulled her inside and shut the door. "Come on. Let me show you to your room and let you meet everybody."
Buffy followed along amiably, happy to forget about her duties for the moment. "So, teacher huh? Who would have thought you of all people would be put in charge of a bunch of kids. Killed any yet?"
He grinned ruefully as they walked up a flight of stairs. "I wasn't that bad, was I?"
"Three words: Marvin the hamster."
His cheeks colored briefly and he laughed ruefully. "It was just his time to go, Buff. Besides, I was nine at the time."
Buffy saw a head poke out of one of the bedrooms they passed by and she gave the kid a big smile. His eyes widened and he immediately disappeared back into the room. She chuckled. "So what do you teach? Math? Science? I still can't really see you standing in front of a class. A bunch of cars, yes. Kids, no."
"I actually teach them tech ed and auto maintenance," he told her with a grin. After a pause, he continued, "as well as some English on the side.” He stopped in front of a door and opened it. "Here it is. My room is just down the hall that way," he said pointing.
"Thanks, coz." Buffy threw her duffel bag onto the floor next to where Scott had set her suitcase. She sat down on the bed and bounced a little. "Comfy."
"We try and keep our guests happy." He leaned against the door frame and watched her with a smile on his face. "So how long are you staying?"
"I can't stay more than a week. I have stuff I gotta do back home. There's also a chance that I might have leave earlier than that, too if there's an emergency."
"Little Buffy, all grown up and responsible."
She threw a pillow at him which he easily caught. "Hey! At least I never killed a pet."
"That's because your parents never trusted you with a pet," he replied as he threw back the pillow.
She batted it away and stuck her tongue out at him. "Now I remember why I didn't like you when I was a kid. You always teased me."
"You were so easy to tease though. Even when you were six, you worried so much about how you looked and acted. I just had to tease you."
Buffy looked down at her hands. "Yeah well, I've changed a bit since then."
Scott walked over and sat down on the bed beside her, putting an arm around her shoulders. "I know Uncle Hank hasn't always been there for you but I want you to know if you ever need anything, anything at all, you can come to me. If Aunt Joyce was still alive, she would be so proud of the way you took care of Dawn. You've really grown up and matured, you know?"
She hugged him back, burying her face into his shoulder so that he wouldn't see the tears in her eyes. "Thanks, Scott. I really appreciate that." She took a deep breath. "I'm sorry about Jean," she said softly. "I never met her but she sounded wonderful in your letters."
Scott's arms tightened around her. "Thanks," he said hoarsely. "I think you would have liked her. I wish you could have."
She disentangled herself from him and jumped to her feet. "Hey, so who are these other people that you're going to introduce me to? You don't expect me to spend all my time this week with you, do you?"
He grinned at her, glad for the change of subject. "The Professor wanted to talk to you, I know that. Why don't we go to his office first before I hunt down the others?"
Professor Charles Xavier looked up from his book at the knock on his door. "Enter," he called out, marking his place and closing the book. He smiled in welcome as Scott and an unfamiliar blond woman entered. "You must be Buffy," he said, wheeling out from behind his desk. "Welcome to my school."
She shook his hand and took the seat he offered. "Thanks. I haven't seen much of it but what I have seen looks gorgeous."
Xavier leaned back in his wheelchair. "So Scott tells me that you are starting a school yourself?"
She grinned a little shyly. "I suppose you could call it a school, though it’s a bit more complicated than that. Our Cleveland headquarters is up and running and we’re looking to reopen our London base soon, and possibly another in Tokyo as well. The London one’s ready to go in a few weeks. We’re still working on Tokyo though.” She grinned.
The Professor frowned slightly. “Isn’t that a little ambitious for a new organization?”
“We’re not exactly new. The organization that I work for has been around for a long time but they had to go through an unexpected reorganization last year. A lot of things have changed and we’re looking to expand so that we have several smaller headquarters rather than one giant one in London.”
Xavier frowned. “Just what does your organization do, if I might ask?”
She smiled sweetly in response. “I’m afraid that’s classified. But we’re on the side of good so you can sleep easy tonight.”
“Government?” Xavier kept his outward façade calm but he started to tense with worry on the inside. He began to probe Buffy’s mind and encountered a very strong mental shield.
She looked sharply at him, whether in response to his question or because she felt his mind trying to get into hers, he had no idea. “God no, though we carry a great amount of influence with a fair number of national governments.” She frowned. “And when I said it was classified, I meant it so keep your mental hands to yourself.”
Scott started, looking at his cousin in shock. Professor?
he asked warily.Easy, Scott
, Xavier warned. “My apologies, Miss Summers,” he said out loud. “But we’ve recently had some problems with the United States government and I just wanted to be sure of the safety of my school.”
“Would this have something to do with the hastily repaired bullet holes I saw in the front foyer?” She stood up suddenly and walked to the window, looking out over the lawn in which two students were kicking a soccer ball back and forth. “I’ve...also had problems with the government in the past, particularly the military.” She glanced over at the two men. “I would never endanger children if I could help it. Though I have learned that it can’t be helped at times, in which case the best you could do is train those children to be able to defend themselves.”
Scott winced slightly at the age and knowledge in her eyes. Where had the ditzy cheerleader cousin of his gone? He wondered what Dawn was like after so many years. Did she have the same hard look in her eyes as her sister? What could the two of them possibly have gone through since he had seen them last? And how in the world had Buffy gotten a job with an organization that was ‘classifed’?
An uncomfortable silence filled the room. The Professor cleared his throat and nodded at Scott. “Why don’t you give your cousin a tour of the grounds before dinner? I’m sure the two of you have a lot of catching up to do.”
Ten minutes later, the two of them were in the stables and Buffy was petting a chestnut gelding who lipped her cheek in return. “So,” he said slowly, “you really did grow up.”
“People have a tendency to do that, Scott. And you didn’t contact us in eight years, ever since Mom and Dad split. It’s like you forgot we existed until you saw Sunnydale become a giant sinkhole.” She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the gelding’s neck. “It’s not like Dad was any help. Do you know how much I would have liked to have known that some relative out there still cared about me? After Mom died...” Her voice trailed off.
Scott hesitantly placed a hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry I didn’t keep in contact. God knows I don’t have enough family that I can do with one less.”
Buffy turned around and hugged him. “You had your own shit to deal with,” she said softly. “God knows I did.”
“Talk to me, Buff. Tell me what’s been going on in your life.” He looked down at her face. “And none of that ‘classified’ BS, either.”
She laughed shakily. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you about my life.”
He let go of her and leaned against the wooden wall, crossing his arms over his chest. “Try me.”
She shook her head and headed towards the door. “Forget it. I wasn’t kidding when I said the stuff’s classified. There’re a lot of people who would be in danger if word gets out about what we’re doing. We have a lot of political pull but that doesn’t mean that we can protect every one of our agents from a government if someone high up decides it would be fun to start seeing just what we can do when we’re poked and prodded and injected with stuff.”
Scott froze. “I take it you’re speaking from personal experience?” he asked cautiously.
She walked outside, calling back behind her, “Classified.”
He swore softly and raced after Buffy. He grabbed her arm and spun her around. “Look, this is important. Was the government experimenting on you? Are you a—” He stopped. What could he say without revealing too much information?
She looked up at him. “Am I a what? And no, the government wasn’t experimenting on me. Just some people I cared about.”
“Why would the government be experimenting on them?” he asked, fearing the answer. Logan’s past was still unknown other than the brief hints of the Weapon X project that they had gleaned at Alkali Lake.
Buffy shrugged out of his grasp easily and started walking down the length of the lawn. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
He groaned in frustration. There were far too many secrets between the two of them. “Were they mutants?” he blurted out.
She looked back at him, a genuine smile lighting up her face briefly. “Mutants?” she laughed. “That would be a no.” She shook her head. “Doesn’t matter now; we shut them down and the United States government doesn’t want to have anything to do with it anymore. It would be a giant political scandal, you see, and there’s only so much denying one can do with a body count that high if it comes to light.” Taking one look at his face, she added quickly, “And before you ask, no, I didn’t kill the soldiers. I don’t kill humans.”
Scott walked up next to her. “Buffy,” he said seriously, “I need to know exactly what you’re talking about. Because it sounds suspiciously like a project that someone I know went through. Please.”
She shook her head. “You really want to open up the whole can of worms? Because you can’t just shove them back in there afterwards and go back to happy denial land. You’ll learn all about the ugly things that go bump in the night and all the times the world almost ceased to exist.” She looked him in the eye. “Are you sure you want to know? Because that’s my life.”
Scott looked away, up at the sky. He closed his eyes and took off his red quartz goggles. “Well, Buffy, here’s my life.” He opened his eyes and let the red beams streak up for a few seconds before closing his eyes and putting his goggles back on. That done, he looked away from Buffy, scared of her reaction.
The silence stretched out until she remarked offhandedly, “Well, that was different.” She smiled gently at him. “I always wondered what you were hiding under those shades.” She linked arms with him and started walking again, towards the riding trails that threaded through the wooded area surrounding the mansion. “Gotta say, that light show wouldn’t have been my first guess.”
He relaxed. “Your turn.”
“I’m afraid mine isn’t quite as flashy,” she admitted. She glanced around and tugged him towards a good-sized rock, about the size of a basketball. She knelt down and slid her fingers underneath it, lifting it up easily. She tossed it up in the air and caught it with one hand. She then handed the stone to Scott who staggered under the weight.
After she had taken the rock back and set it back down on the ground, he asked, “You’re a mutant too?”
She shook her head. “I wish it were that simple.” She sighed. “If only Giles were here; he always does this so much better than I do.” She tilted her head to the side and pursed her lips. “I suppose I should start at the beginning with demons and vampires and magic.” She looked at Scott. “Can you believe in that?”
He sighed and shook his head. “You’re asking me to believe the impossible, Buffy.”
“I’ve lived the impossible.” She placed a hand on her chest. “I shouldn’t be alive right now. I was dead
, Scott—six feet under in a coffin dead. But here I am, standing in front of you very much breathing.” She looked her cousin in the eyes. “So yeah, I’m asking you to believe in vampires, and demons, and all the other things that you only see in horror movies because they do exist.”
Scott leaned against a tree and placed his face in his hands. “Say I do believe you,” he said, looking at her. “Where do you fit into all this?”
Buffy stepped forward and took his hands in hers. “I’m the person who fights the evil in the world. I was given the strength, the power, to protect people so they can go on living their normal lives without knowing just what hides in the shadows.”
He shook his head and broke away from her. “Buffy— Why you?” he asked softly.
She shrugged. “I was Chosen.” He could hear the capital ‘C’ in her voice. “Who knows why the Powers that Be chose me as their warrior but they did.” A smile tugged on her lips. “And by the simple fact that the world is still here, I’d say they made a pretty good choice. Though...” She trailed off and sadness returned to her eyes. “Perhaps they could have chosen better.”
Arms enveloped her and she relaxed in her cousin’s hug. “You have to make some tough choices out there,” he whispered. “And in the end, you have to pay for those choices. You can’t win all the time. Sometimes, you lose even if you win.”
Buffy blinked away tears. “I know the feeling.” She looked up and studied Scott. “Jean?” she asked gently.
“I keep asking myself what I could have done differently so that she would still be alive.” He stared off into the distance, unwilling to voice such a new grief, even to Buffy. He remembered Jean, running out of the Blackbird to hold back the flood long enough for the plane to get to safety.
She stepped back slightly but still kept hold of his arms. “Why you, Scott?”
“Because if I don’t lead, who would? Who would protect those who can’t fight back?”
Buffy smiled sadly. “Welcome to the hero business, coz. I get the feeling that we both have some stories to tell.”