Title: Rogue’s Hunter
Chapter: A Place to Belong/Human Contact
Author: Knife Hand
Feedback: Constructive feedback appreciated, flames unappreciated
Spoilers: First three series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the X-Men movie.
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.
Summary: Graduation went badly and now Xander, after discovering he is a mutant, is looking for a place to fit in. He ends up in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters but he can never fully escape his past.
AN: Thanx to everyone who reviewed. I did some alterations to the story based on MangusXXN’s suggestion. More coming soon. :)
“_” denotes speech, ‘_’ denotes thought, ‘_’ denotes telepathic communication and *_* denotes radio conversations.
Xander was leaving Sunnydale, forever. The Ascension had gone badly, very badly. The majority of the graduating class had been killed in the fight with the vampires, including Willow, Oz and Cordelia or eaten by the Mayor. Angel had been dusted in the fight while Buffy, Giles and Wesley had all died in the explosion that had killed the Mayor. Only Xander had survived, but not unaffected. He had gotten faster, stronger and, when his instincts took over, was a much better fighter. His senses had also improved; he was a hunter, so he patrolled for the last several months in the absence of a Slayer. He had no idea what was going on until he remembered hearing about the Ellis Island affair. He was a mutant. The new Slayer and her Watcher had just arrived in Sunnydale, so Xander was leaving. He had heard about a place for mutants like him, Xavier’s school for the Gifted, so he was making his way there.
~A Few Weeks Later~
Xander stood outside the mansion of Xavier’s school. Xander had changed from the Zeppo that had attended graduation almost seven months prior. His physique had become strong and sleek. He had well defined muscles but was not bulky; if anything he resembled a gymnast or a swimmer. His hair had grown and was kept in a short ponytail. Over the last few weeks, since leaving Sunnydale, his sight, hearing and sense of smell had continued to improve. Standing at the gate he could see what colour curtains were on each window in the house, three hundred yards away. He had learnt to control his senses to a degree, particularly his sight and hearing, but was having trouble controlling his sense of smell. Using his new agility, Xander scaled the fence and jumped down. After a few paces, Xander stoped, for no obvious reason.
‘Who is in my mind?’ Xander though, when he felt a presence.
‘My name is Professor Charles Xavier. This is my school, and who are you?’ the presence said.
“I am a Hunter. I came to enrol.’ Xander thought in response.
‘Then enter. You will be shown to my office.”
Xander felt the presence recede and moved to the front door. He was met by a girl almost his own age. She had long, dark brown hair with a single white streak, and deep but sad eyes, almost as if she were longing for something that she could never have. She was dressed in a long trench coat with a hood, long trousers and gloves, all in back. Except for her face, none of her face was exposed.
“Hi. I’m Rogue, I’m to take you to see Professor Xavier.” The girl said with a southern accent.
“Hunter.” Xander responded. “Lead the way.”
As Rogue lead Xander through the school, Xander smelt something familiar about the girl, even though he had never seen her before. The scent was so familiar that it triggered a memory. He had once had the same scent from Buffy. He had been possessed by a Hyena spirit at the time; it was the scent of a potential mate. Xander expelled the thought from his mind immediately, he had just got there. When he was shown into Xavier’s office there were five adults there. Xavier was the bald man in the wheelchair behind the desk. The others included a tall, dark haired man with red tinted glasses; an intelligent looking woman with red hair, who reminded him of a more mature Willow; a stocky, rugged looking man who had the air of a predator and a dark skinned, white haired woman who smelt like ozone, the after-effect of a lighting strike.
“Thank you Rogue. Hunter, may I introduce Scott Summers, also called Cyclops (the man with the red glasses); Doctor Jean Grey (the red haired woman); Logan, also called Wolverine (the predator) and Ororo Munroe, also called Storm (the white haired woman).” Professor Xavier said.
“Summers? Any relation to Hank and Joyce Summers?” Xander asked Cyclops.
“They are my Aunt and Uncle. Why?” Scott asked.
“I knew their daughter, Buffy; I was one of her best friends. I’m sorry that she’s dead. Real names Xander Harris, by the way.” Xander said.
Scott looked sad and murmured thanks and Jean tried to console him.
“Thank you, Rogue. That will be all.” Professor Xavier said.
“Thanks for the guide.” Xander said before leaning in and giving Rogue a quick kiss on the cheek.
When Xander straitened everyone, including Rogue, was staring at him in shock and Rogue was touching her cheek where his lips had been.
“What? Did I grow horns or something? Dam Demons.” Xander said, running his hands across his forehead.
“How were you able to do that?” Scott asked in shock.
“Do what?” Xander responded.
“Kiss Marie? Rogue.” Logan said when Xander looked confused.
“What are you talking about? It’s not as if she’s a Vampire or anything.” Xander said.
“Vampires?” Scott said.
“Rogue’s power is the ability to absorb another person’s life force, in the case of mutants, she can absorb their powers for a short time. You really should be lying on the floor unconscious, or at least drained.” The Professor explained.
“Oh, ok.” Xander said before turning to Rogue. “So, no touching. That’s got to suck.”
Rogue could not help but laugh at the flippant tone and the lopsided grin.
“You know you are weird, right? Even by mutant standards.” Rogue said, still chuckling.
“That’s what growing up on a Hellmouth will do to you. Especially when you spend three years fighting Vampires and Demons along side a Slayer, a Witch, a Werewolf, a Watcher, a Souled Vampire and Cordy.” Xander said, shuddering when he said Cordy.
“Vampires and demons aren’t real. They are mostly fictional or mutants confused as demons.” Jean said, concerned about his mental health.
“You’re mutants. You can’t believe in anything else? Professor, why don’t you take a look.” Xander said, tapping his temple.
Xander felt the Professor enter his mind and he pointed the telepath to the part of his mind that contained general knowledge and let down his mental barriers. Xander was assaulted with images of three years worth of vampires and demons from his own past. Images of their demonic visages and feeding, before he raised his barriers again. Professor Xavier saw the images as well, but at a distance, like the outside observer that he was.
“You live through that nightmare? I believe that vampires are real now.” Xavier said.
Xander nodded, with a slight tightness around his eyes, which could have been pain, loss or insanity.
“You mentally stable, kid?” Logan asked.
“Yep. You’ll all believe once you see a vampire.” Xander replied and then related to them an outline of what happened over the last three and a half years in Sunnydale.
~Early The Next Morning~
Xander and Rogue walked through the mansion, hand in hand. None of the other students were awake yet. Rogue was giving Xander the tour and relishing the first non-damaging human contact she had experienced in over two years. They finally reached the Danger Room and Xander was interested. Xander set up the system for a typical Sunnydale setup and moved from the control room into the Danger Room itself while Rogue watched from control, slightly nervous at what he had programmed in. When the simulation began, Xander let Hunter out to play.
The simulation was difficult, with about fifty vampires and three large demons protecting a building. The demons were large, fast, strong and poisonous. Hunter was a formidable fighter however. With the instincts, speed and strength of the Hyena spirit, the training, knowledge and discipline of Solider guy and the heightened senses, agility and reflexes of his mutant powers, coupled with over three years of combat experiences and indirect training of and from a Slayer, Hunter could easily perform the simulation. Taking only two stakes and a katana from the programmed armoury, Hunter began to stalk his prey. Dropping in from behind or from the shadows Hunter managed to take out all ten vampires that patrolled the perimeter without them even seeing him, let alone being able to attack him. He slowly made his way into the building, a simulation of a warehouse with offices at the front. Moving from room to room Hunter checked out every office before proceeding to the warehouse section, managing to take out another twenty-five vampires. As he was about to enter the warehouse section he heard some vampires coming, so he ducked into an office and waited for them to fully enter the hallway and close the door to the warehouse before he attacked. There were five vampires. They walked in two pairs with the fifth on trailing. Hunter stepped out behind the vampires and staked the trailing one. Hunter dropped his two stakes on purpose in order to get the vampires attention. They turned and moved towards him hoping to encircle the intruder. Hunter stepped forward quickly, passing the leading pair and snapped a crippling blow to one of the trailing vampires, breaking its kneecap, while throwing a backhanded punch at the other trailing vampire’s head. The vampire ducked the backhand, allowing Hunter to step behind the crippled vampire and twist its head clear off, causing it to dissolve to dust. He then launched a side kick as the vampire that had ducked, slamming it into a wall. Hunter exchanged a flurry of blows with the other two vampires for almost a minute, before growing tired and jumping clear over the vampires, reclaiming his stakes and dusting them before the had a chance to turn. The unconscious vampire had come to and charged, running strait into a casually thrown stake. Hunter then, after disgrading his other stake, drew his katana and proceeded into the warehouse section.
“Kill him.” Shouted the largest of the demons and nine vampires ran at Hunter.
Moving to meet them, Hunter decapitated the three leading vampires before the others circled him. Hunter drove his Katana into one vampire’s stomach and kicked out at the vampire who had charged at his back, hitting it in the chest. He withdrew his sword from the first vampire, swung and decapitated the second before completing the rotation and giving the wounded vampire the same treatment. Hunter turned to face the remaining three vampires. Faking a charge at the left hand vampire, he kicked the centre vampire, causing it to fly backwards, and drove his sword into the right hand vampire. Switching the sword to his left hand, Hunter spun away from the vampire and backhanded the vampire he had faked at previously in the face. Continuing the spin, which drew the sword from the other vampire, Hunter used his momentum to decapitate the two vampires the now flanked him. Hunter faced the last vampire who looked between Hunter and the three demons, deciding which it was more afraid of, finally deciding that Hunter was more dangerous, it ran. Hunter snapped a stake out of a nearby crate and threw it, dusting the vampire as it ran. Hunter faced the three demons as they approached. Unlike the vampire they were semi-coordinated as a group. After ten minutes of fighting Hunter had managed to kill the three demons, avoiding their poisonous spikes and claws and driving his sword into their hearts, located on the right side of their bodies, about six inches above their waists. When he heard clapping, Hunter turned around and he dropped his sword in shock. Before him stood a petite, blond, female vampire.
“Oh god.” Xander whispered.
“Aw. Xander, what’s the matter? Is it this?” Vampire Buffy said as she morphed into game face. “Why do you hesitate? You staked Willow after graduation. Come on. Stake me or embrace the power. Your choice.”
Xander dropped to his knees and vampire Buffy approached, gently lifted him to his feet and bent in to bite him.
“Bastard.” She whispered before dissolving into dust after being staked by the wood fragment the Hunter had stashed up his sleave when he had broken the crate.
“Sorry, Buffy.” Xander whispered as he cried.
The warehouse faded around him and Xander found himself in the Danger Room, with the viewing window into the control room. In the control room, looking on, was everyone who was in the professor’s office the previous night.
“Who the HELL is playing silly buggers!” Xander screamed at the control room.
“No one touched the program once you entered it, Xander.” Rogue replied.
“Professor, where does the simulator get its information?” Xander asked angrily. “Because I never, EVER would have put her in as a vampire.”
Xander had gestured to where vampire Buffy had been dusted.
“Why not? Who was she?” Scott asked.
“Your cousin.” Xander replied.
‘My first true love.’ He thought in anguish.
“The program knows things in could never know. She said things I’ve never told anybody.”
Xander ran out of the Danger Room at top speed, heading away, trying to outrun his memories. Failing.
Xander was patrolling the cemeteries. It had been two weeks since graduation. Xander moved over to a circle of graves. The largest and most elaborate was Buffy’s. The grave to the left of hers was Angel’s while the one on the right was Giles’, she was eternally flanked by her lover and her father figure. On the other side of Giles was Willow’s grave, with Oz’s beyond that. Next to Angel’s grave was Cordelia’s, completing the circle of graves. There was no space in the circle for him. They had died heroes, he never would. Somehow he had survived and it was slowly killing him.
“Bored now.” Came a soft female voice behind him.
Xander spun and his heart dropped. It was Willow, as a vampire.
“Oh, goody. Xand, it’s you. You have no idea how free this makes you. All the years, we were wrong, this is power, this is freedom. Join me, Xand. Be free. We will be young and beautiful and together forever.”
“I’m sorry Will. Don’t worry, you will be free.” Xander said pulling out a stake.
“What? You think YOU could kill me? Don’t make me laugh.” Vampire Willow scoffed.
“I’m not the Zeppo anymore. Now I’m the Hunter.” Xander shot back.
“Hunter?” Vampire Willow whispered in shock.
Xander took the opportunity to stake Willow, searching her eyes for relief, thanks, release, anything, as she dissolved into dust.
“Now you are free, Wills.” Xander whispered before walking away.
Now he knew he did not deserve to be buried with the heroes of graduation.
Xander sat with his back against a tree in the forest located on the mansion’s grounds with his eyes closed. His sharp hearing picked up footsteps and a gust of wind brought the semi-familiar smell of a predator.
“Go away, Logan.” Xander said without moving.
“Look, kid. We’re all friends here. If you ever need to talk, I’m here, so is Rogue. Kid, she’s been without human contact for years, she needs you. She also feels for you. I don’t know wether it is love or friendship but she had never been closer to anyone. I don’t know all of what you’ve been through, but we are here for you.” Logan said.
‘Logan, you don’t know anything about what I’ve been through.’ Xander though bitterly to himself. ‘I’ve live through four apocalypses. I lived in the town with the highest mortality rate in the world, and was one of the few who knew what was happening. I’ve helped friends families grieve for their missing children the gone out at night looking to kill them. I’ve seen almost every kind of un-natural death there is. I’ve watched friends die, a lot sacrificing themselves for the sake of a world that will never know what goes bump in the night. Heroes written off as statistics in a town that never cared. I’ve had to kill two of my best friends who had turned into vampires. One, a boy I had known for years as my first real experience in the real world. The second, a girl I had known all my life, since before I could remember. We were always there for each other, at one stage we thought we would marry. Have you any idea what it is like to look in the eyes of a thing that used to be your friend and hope to see gratitude or release or anything before they turn to dust from the piece of wood in you hand? How about watching the girl you love beyond reason die twice when you had vowed that, no matter what, you would keep her safe, keep her alive and to hell with destiny? To know you have failed? Or carrying the weight of the world on you shoulders for six months while hoping that the girl you had you first sexual experience with, who then tried to kill you on several occasions, would finally die for the sake of humanity, so another young girl could have her life cut short so she can fight non-stop for a few years before dieing a violent and brutal death, just so you can stop? Most people believe that humanity is the top of the food chain, but they are wrong. We are low down, but the shear cruelty, selfishness and general indifference for the rest of the world makes humans the most evil and dangerous creatures in Heaven, Earth and Hell. Trust me, I know about Hell. But humans can also be the noblest, most caring and selfless beings in existence. Insane huh?’
“You have no idea of what I’ve done or seen. Sometimes you have to become evil to defeat it.” Xander said cryptically
“Kid. You’re completely nuts.” Logan said cautiously
“Isn’t everyone?” Xander replied with a smirk.
“You better now, kid?”
“Nah, but I’ll deal.” Xander said, standing up and heading back towards the mansion. “Can’t disappoint Rogue now, can I?”
“Better not or I’ll rip you a new one.” Logan growled.
“You and what army?” Xander shot back.
The banter continued all the way up to the mansion.
~Ten Minutes Later~
Xander walked into the recreation room with Logan. Most of the students were watching TV or playing on the computer games around the room. Rogue was sitting across the room, in one of her typical outfits that covered all her skin except her face, talking to a blond haired boy. When he entered she looked up and a smile flashed across her face.
“Hunter.” She called and came running across the room.
“Hey Rogue.” He called back.
He hugged her when she reached him and place his forehead against hers.
“Sorry I freaked.” He whispered.
“It’s ok.” She whispered back.
After a second they noticed the stunned silence in the room, and Xander noticed a sour look from the boy Rogue had been talking with.
“Oh, for fucks sake. Wolverine, care to explain.” Xander said, not bothering to moderate his language.
Wolverine had a large grin across his face.
“Alright everyone. This is Hunter. He’s a new student and he appears to be unaffected by Rogue’s power. As of yet we don’t know why as he arrived last night. Happy now?” Logan said, directing the last sentence to Xander.
Xander gave Logan his famous lopsided grin (and some of the girls unconsciously sighed) and nodded.
“Walk with me?” Xander said to Rogue, who nodded in reply.
They wondered through the corridors of the mansion aimlessly, holding hands.
“Who was that boy you were talking to?” Xander enquired after a while.
“That’s Bobby, he can control ice. He a good friend.” Rogue replied.
“Just a friend? Because he was giving me a ‘hands off my girl’ stare.” Xander replied.
“Hunter! It’s nothing like that.” Rogue replied.
“When it’s us, please call me Xander.”
“Ok. And you’ll call me Marie?” Rogue queried.
~Eighteen Months Later~
Xander and Marie were sitting on Xander’s bed watching TV. Xander was leaning up against the headboard and Marie, sitting in front of Xander, was leaning against him. Xander was wearing a pair of cut-off jeans, without a shirt, and his ever present sliver cross on a gold chain. Marie was wearing a sports tank-top and shorts (AN: shorts refer to short length pants, not underwear. Australian language standards in this fic.). Xander and Marie had been officially dating for over a year. Sixteen months, twenty-five days, fourteen hours and thirty-six hours to be exact. Marie relaxed back into Xander’s arms, wrapped around her bare stomach, relishing in the contact that she could have with no one else, but that was not why they had started dating. They could recognise similar elements in their own pasts, particularly being isolated at times, like when Xander was excluded from the group ‘for his own good’. Just as Xander and Marie suited each other, so did Hunter and Rogue. The professor had finally figured out why Hunter could touch Rogue. His mutation, along with other things, allowed Hunter to transfer some of his energy into other mutants, allowing them to increase their power, at will. This ability effectively negated the power draining power that Rogue possessed but could not control.
Marie and Xander had share almost all of their pasts with each other, except some elements that Xander still found painful to talk about. Marie’s eyes flicked over to the small area in the corner, made up like a shrine, that Xander had never explained but she knew it related to his past. There was a long, black leather jacket; a pink, woman’s jumper; a crudely carved stake; a stuffed pig; a small, heart shaped locket; a guitar pic; a computer disk and a pair of glasses. Xander noticed the glance and decided to explain.
“They belonged to friends who die trying to save the world. The glasses belonged to Giles; he was a mentor and father to the group. The stuffed pig, Mr. Gordo, belonged to Buffy, Scott’s cousin. The pink jumper was Willow’s, my oldest friend. The jacket belonged to Angel. I hated his guts, but I came to respect him. The disk belonged to Miss Calender; a techno-pagan who we all thought would get with Giles. The guitar pic belonged to Oz, Willow’s boyfriend. The locket was Cordelia’s; she was my girlfriend for a short time. The stake was Kendra’s. I’ve know three Slayers personally. Buffy, Kendra and Faith. I felt the pain of each of their deaths, even Faith’s who turned evil and tried to kill us all. Buffy’s was the hardest because I had to deal twice. After I brought her back the first time, I swore that I would keep them safe. The greatest in a long line of failures.”
Silence descended over the room and Marie saw the pain in Xander’s eyes.
“I’m sorry.” Marie said quietly.
“Not your fault, honey. I need to deal.” Xander said, leaning down for a kiss.
“EMERGENCY! WILL STORM, CYCLOPS, WOLVERINE, ROGUE AND HUNTER REPORT TO THE WAR ROOM IMEADATLY.” The PA system called.
“Dam!” Xander said forcefully.
Xander and Marie quickly changed into their black rubber (AN: Snicker!) uniforms. Xander’s concealed the scars on his chest and arms that he had accumulated fighting for his life. After a few minutes Rogue and Hunter ran out of the room, leaving the personalities of Xander and Marie behind. Rogue and Hunter entered the War Room just before the briefing began; Professor Xavier and Jean Grey were there along with the others called. Rogue leaned casually against the wall, flipping her white strand of hair out of her face while Hunter stood next to her at parade rest. Hunter could smell the tension and fear in the room and he unconsciously reached out and griped hands with Rogue for a second.
“After recent events, Magneto is trying to build up his army. We have reason to believe that he is going after two mutants. He is recruiting forcefully now. The two targets are called Gambit and the Beast.”
Professor Xavier explained, showing displays of the two mutants.
The Beast was large and covered with blue hair, his details showing he is fast, agile and extremely intelligent. Gambit was a scruffy looking man in his late twenties with a ponytail. He has training with a quarterstaff and has the ability to turn normal objects into explosives.
“What’s the tactical sitrep?” Hunter asked.
“Minimal contact. Simple recruitment and retrieval. Avoid combat if possible.” Jean Grey answered.
Hunter nodded his head.
“Two teams. Jean, Wolverine and Cyclops will retrieve Beast, Cyclops as team leader. Storm, Rogue and Hunter will retrieve Gambit, Hunter as team leader. Cyclops’ team will take the Blackbird and Hunter’s will take the Nighthawk. Destinations have been programmed into the flight computers. Good luck!” Professor Xavier said.
~2 Hours Later In A Park, Location: Classified~
“Alright. Storm, go make contact. Rogue and I will stay with the Nighthawk. And keep in contact.” Hunter said tapping his headset.
Storm moved off into the night. Two minutes later Hunter received a call that Storm had sighted Gambit, then another call a minute later to say that she and Gambit were returning without incident. A gust of wind brought a fetid smell to Hunter’s nose, which he recognised from tuition with Wolverine.
“Rogue, got in and start her up.” Hunter call as he took off in the direction the gust had come from.
“Storm. Get back to the ship, ASAP.” Hunter called over the radio.
*What’s the matter?* came Storm’s voice through the headset.
“Sabretooth.” Hunter responded.
Hunter saw Storm and Gambit running towards the Nighthawk and he saw Sabretooth drop out of a tree behind them. Running at top speed, Hunter crash tackled Sabretooth, throwing him forty feet across the park. Hunter then, in a rearguard action, retreated to the Nighthawk which took off just after he boarded. Hunter walked into the main cabin, which showed Storm piloting and Gambit leaning over Rogue’s shoulder, without her noticing, about to kiss her cheek.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Hunter told Gambit.
Gambit jerked up and Rogue turned, casting an angry look at Gambit. In the cockpit, Storm chuckled.
“And why shouldn’t Remy kiss this lovely girl?” Gambit asked in his casein accent.
“Two reasons. Firstly she is my girlfriend and I would rip you spine out, and I’ll show you the second.” Hunter said.
He leaned over Rogue and looked in her eyes.
“You trust me?” he whispered.
“Of course.” she whispered back.
Hunter deliberately let down his natural defences before he kissed Rogue, so when their lips touched, Rogue began to draw Hunter’s life force out of him. What looked like black veins spread out from the point of contact slowly draining Hunter, who pulled back after a few seconds and took a deep breath.
“Whoa!” Gambit said.
Hunter smiled and leaned back in for a deep kiss with Rogue, however this time nothing happened.
Gambit was deeply confused.
“I have a natural immunity which I dropped for that demonstration.” Hunter explained.
Gambit moved into the cockpit with Storm, closing the connecting door, and Hunter sat next to Rogue.
“Why? You know I hate it.” Rogue asked.
“Because I love you. Now you will always have a part of me, and you’ll know that I’m alright. Also it taught the smug SOB a lesson.” Hunter replied with a smile.
“This is intense. I got you keen senses. I can hear their heartbeats even through the door.” Rogue said.
“Try to ignore it. Concentrate on my heartbeat, Marie.” Xander said.
The Hunter and Rogue personalities receded, allowing them to be just Xander and Marie. Xander knew that his past would always be with him, but Marie was his future. Out of all the people he knew, three would always stay with him. Willow, his first, best and truest friend; Buffy, his first love and Faith, his first lover. Marie was all three, best friend, love and lover, even though they had never done the act. They had the easy comfort and the ability to talk about almost anything reminiscent of best friends; the emotional attachment and dedication of true love and the physical closeness of lovers.
“Thank you, Xander. For everything.” Marie said before relaxing against his shoulder and falling asleep to the sound of his heartbeat.
~One Month Later~
Xander watched Marie as she trained in the Danger Room. Several students and the other X-men were there also, interested in her progress. The morning after recruiting Gambit, Marie discovered her other gift, the ability to fly, when she woke up floating about three feet above her bed. She had been training almost everyday since then to utilise this new skill, and Xander had been there every session. To the rest of the school they were just Hunter and Rogue, the youngest and, in some opinions, most dangerous and undoubtable the best pair of the X-men. No one knew the other side of the equation. In private they were just Xander and Marie, and they acted like any other young couple, with no expectations to be tough, in control of their emotions or to save the world, as Hunter and Rogue were expected to do. Marie was flying quite well, until suddenly she dropped out of the air. Xander moved as fast as he could and caught her.
“You ok?” Xander asked.
Marie nodded slightly weakly. The amount of training she had expended in the past few weeks had drained her. Marie looked curiously into Xander’s eyes at his expression.
“You need this, Marie.” Xander said, forgetting that they were in public.
“No, Xander.” Marie replied, still being carried in his arms.
“Yes.” Xander said forcefully before dropping his defences and kissing her.
Everone watching was amazed at the change in behaviour of the pair and everyone, except Gambit and Storm, were completely shocked at what happened next. The effect had been described in great detail through the telling and there was not a single student who had not heard and was a little frightened of what Rogue caul do but, for all but a few, it had never been seen, until now. Xander’s energy flowed into Marie, reviving her partially from her exhaustion but Xander broke the kiss before he was too drained.
“Feel better?” he asked.
Marie nodded and snuggled closer in his arms, being held more for comfort than necessity. Xander looked up strait into Professor Xavier’s eyes.
“Yes, Professor. It was voluntary.” He said.
“Can we go back to our room now? My head hurts from their heartbeats, and whispering.” Marie said.
Xander started walking down the hall, still carrying Marie.
“Good thing I like you, boy.” Wolverine muttered when they were halfway down the hall.
He saw Rogue whisper into Hunter’s ear and Hunter laughed.
“Not your choice, Logan. Not your choice.” Xander called out without looking back.
Xander carried Marie back to his, now officially their, room, laying her down on the bed and sitting in the single seater.
“How can you stand all the smells? It was overpowering.” Marie asked.
“I have learnt to ignore and filter out any smell, except one.” Xander replied with a smile. “I never filter your’s. I love the way you smell, Marie. It smells like home.”
“Really? What do I smell like?”
“Cinnamon and Apricots, with that special, familiar undertone.” Xander said, lost in both memory and her current scent.
“Remember I told you about the Hyena? Alpha male needing a strong companion, a mate? At the time it recognised Buffy as a potential mate, now it is you. Only you.”
Xander looked away from Marie, embarrassed.
“Oh, Xander. I love you.” Marie said, moving over and giving him a hug.
It was the first time she had ever said those words, even though Xander had said them to her a few times. Xander broke the hug and pulled a small box out of one of the draws.
“Marie. Will you marry me?” he asked, opening the velvet box.
The ring was beautiful white gold with a diamond setting. The diamond was small but flawless and did not dominate the setting.
“Yes.” Marie whispered.
Xander’s goofy grin broke out on his face.
“Let’s celebrate.” Xander said. “Let’s take a ride.”
“You don’t mean…? You’ve been hanging around Logan too much.” Marie replied but she agreed.
Five minutes they were out of the Mansion on Scott’s bike, speeding into the early evening, heading into town to celebrate their engagement.
~Four Hours Later – Sunnydale, California~
Kathleen was dying, and she knew it. She was a pretty brunette, only just turned sixteen. To most people, myths were ancient, scary tails that were used to explain the unknown. Kathleen knew the truth, she fought the myths every night, as the Slayer, it was her calling, however she did believe in one myth, with the devotion of one whose sanity depended on it. The myth she clung to was not thousands of years old, it was barely two years old. Her Watcher had told her it was nonsense, but she still believed. She had already accepted her death, even before she had sustained the mortal wound that now crippled her curtesy of a dozen, now dead, vampires; it was part of being the Slayer.
She desperately held onto her belief in the Hunter. She knew that he could not help her, but in extreme circumstances, the Slayer could call for his help. She, and the Slayers to follow, would never again stand completely alone. She had heard the stories; he had protected the Hellmouth when there was no Slayer. He had been watching out for the greatest Slayer in living memory, Buffy Summers, almost from day one and the vampires feared him completely. Kathleen had read up on Buffy Summers, she had even visited memorial hill, as it had come to be called, where the heroes of the Ascension were buried. She had noticed that one was missing, Xander Harris. Her Watcher told her that he had probably been eaten by the Mayor in the battle but she had never believed it, and Hunter had appeared just after the battle. She believed that Xander Harris was Hunter, but she had no proof and had never voiced the opinion, but she hoped that he was monitoring Watcher transmissions. Kathleen stumbled into the library of the new Sunnydale Highschool, clutching at the profusely bleeding wound across her stomach with one hand and holding shut a major artery in her shoulder with the other. Madelyn, her Watcher, looked up when she stumbled in and ran for the first aid kit.
“Forget that.” Kathleen said. “I’m too far gone. There’s a demon going to try and open the Hellmouth. Inform the Council, got the new Slayer here quick. Also, promise me you’ll include the words ‘We need Hunter’ in the message.”
“Kathleen, let me hel…” Madelyn started.
“NO! Promise me!” Kathleen said, grabbing Madelyn with both bloody hands. “Please!”
“OK. I promise.” The Watcher said, just before her charge died.
Madelyn cried for twenty minutes before writing her report and honouring her charge’s last request.
~The Next Morning - Manchester, New York~
A loud knock at the door woke Xander and Marie. They had been sleeping in each other’s arms after a night of celebrating.
“Xander. The professor needs you in his office. It’s about some Sunnydale intercepts.” Storm’s voice came through the door.
“We’ll be right down.” Xander replied.
Xander and Marie quickly got dressed in clean clothes and rushed down to Xavier’s office. When they arrived all the X-men were there.
“Hunter, what do you make of this?” Xavier asked, handing Xander a printout.
Xander looked it over, with Marie looking over his shoulder, an arm wrapped absently around his waist.
It is my duty to inform you that the current Slayer had died. There is also evidence that a new local demon will attempt to open the Hellmouth. I request that the new Slayer be found and sent here as soon as possible.
P.S. My Slayer sends a message. ‘We need Hunter.’
“Shit!” Xander said, throwing the printout across the room. “This one barely lasted six months. Any response?”
“Yes. The new Slayer was under their care, she’ll be there in less than ten hours.” Storm replied.
“Right. I’m going.” Xander said and turned to leave the room.
“You can’t go alone.” Scott said.
“I won’t. I’ll be taking my fiancé. By the way, I like you’re bike, Scott. Handles nicely round the turns at high speed, doesn’t it, honey?” Xander said with a smirk.
“Sure does.” Marie replied before they both swept out of the room, leaving stunned X-men behind.
“Not even I saw that coming.” Professor Xavier said.
“Knew I like the kid.” Logan chuckled earning what he guessed was a glare from Scott, it was difficult to tell through the rose-quarts glasses.
Xander and Marie stood outside Professor Xavier’s office laughing.
“Come on. I want to show you something.” Xander said, leading Marie towards the Danger Room.
When they got there, a student was doing some exercise and suddenly remembered he had to be somewhere else when Xander looked at him.
“Computer, load fledgling.” Xand called and a fledgling vampire appeared. “Vampire, right? Stake through the heart and their dust.”
Xander demonstrated with the stake that had appeared in his hand, dusting the vamp. After ordering another vampire from the computer, Xander showed Marie how she could stake one, by putting all her weight behind the strike. Xander then proceeded to teach Marie how to use her agility to avoid any blows delivered by a vampire.
“The best defence is not to be there. If they can’t catch you, they can’t hit you. They can’t hit you, they can’t hurt you.” Xander told her at one point.
By starting at one quarter speed and slowly building it vampire’s speed up, Marie was able to avoid being hit by a full speed fledgling vampire after two hours, at which point they stoped training and went to lunch. They are lunch with their friends. Well, they were actually Marie’s friends but they included Xander, always in his Hunter persona, by association, he was almost always with Marie. There was Bobby, John, Kitty and Jubilee. Xander now understood what it was like for Oz with the Scoobies, being included in a tight nit group only because you are dating one of the members. After a while, with the group still in deep conversation, Xander look at the clock and was shocked at the time.
“Marie. We got to get going if we are going to make California on time.” Xander said.
“Go grab our stuff and warm up the Nighthawk. I’ll just say goodbye to the guys.” Marie replied.
“Whatever my fiancé wishes.” Xander said loud enough for most of the cafeteria to hear while giving a mock bow.
Marie went decidedly red in the face. Kitty and Jubilee fussed over Marie, wanting to see the ring and everything, John and Bobby looked shocked and all the other tables were whispering at the new information. Marie extricated herself from her friends as quickly as possible and made her way to the hanger.
“That was mean.” She said to Xander as she entered the Nighthawk.
“Yah, but it was fun. Besides, when we get back, we’ll get lots of engagement presents.” Xander said with a lopsided grin.
~Late Afternoon - Sunnydale, California~
Joyce Summers was almost ready to quit on Sunnydale and leave, but she couldn’t, for two reasons. The first reason was Dawn, her youngest and only remaining daughter. All of Dawn’s life was here, all her friends. This was the place she had spent the last five years, with only a limited knowledge of what happened in the town. The other reason was Buffy, her eldest and now dead daughter. Buffy had given her life for this town and, although she could not do much, Joyce could not turn her back when it came to the town her daughter had sworn to protect. Joyce had started major neighbourhood watch schemes, which reported to a hotline monitored but the Slayer and her Watcher and had initiated the ‘carry a cross’ campaign. She was shocked out of her thoughts by the ringing of the doorbell. Joyce heard Dawn moving around upstairs as she opened the door to two strangers. They were both in their early twenties with the man overtopping the woman by a head and the fact that they were not in flames from the sunlight was encouraging. The man had shoulder length dark brown hair and brown eyes and his build suggested that he was fast and strong. The woman had long brown hair with a streak of white in the front. They were both dressed in black pants, black shirt, boots and black trench coats. The woman’s trench coat had a hood that covered her head and she wore gloves.
“Hey, Misses S.” the man said.
The familiar greeting jogged Joyce’s memory.
“Xander?!? Everyone thought you were dead.” Joyce said. “Come in.”
”Xander!!!” Came a scream from the top of the stairs.
“Dawnie.” Xander managed to say before she flew down the stairs and bowled into him, knocking him to the ground. “Umm, Dawn? You mind hopping off? I think Marie is getting jealous.”
Dawn got off her crush since she had arrived in Sunnydale, and had thought was dead for over two years. They all moved into the living room, Xander and Marie sitting on the lounge while Dawn and Joyce sat on the two single seaters.
“It’s been a while.” Joyce said in a semi-conversational tone.
“Yah. Not since the day after… Graduation.” Xander said sadly.
Marie could see the shared grief in all of their eyes and was surprised at how quickly it passed.
“Who’s the girl?” Dawn asked, because she was both curious and to be included in the conversation.
“Sorry. This is Marie. Marie this is Joyce and Dawn Summers. Scott’s aunt and cousin. Marie is my fiancé.” Xander said, getting a look of surprise from Joyce and disappointment from Dawn.
“How is Scott?” Joyce asked.
It had been years since she had seen her nephew.
“Fine. He and his girlfriend live and teach at the school where I met Marie. I swear if Scott does not get his ass in gear he’ll lose Jean to Logan.” Xander said, addressing the last part to Marie.
Dawn noticed that Xander and Marie were still wearing their trench coats as the laughed.
“May I take you coats?” Dawn asked, wanting to get a better look at Marie.
“No!” Xander and Marie said together as Dawn reached for Marie’s coat.
“You’re open minded, right? With the Hellmouth and all.” Xander said when he saw their confusion.
Both Joyce and Dawn nodded, and Marie gave him a look that screamed ‘are you sure about this?’ Xander patted Marie’s hand and looked back at the Summers’ women.
“Joyce, Dawn. We are mutants. The school we live at, that Scott teaches at, is for mutants. Everyone there is a mutant.” Xander said.
Xander continued to tell about the school and their powers, with details being filled in by Marie. Xander even told about his time protecting Sunnydale between Buffy’s death and the arrival of the next Slayer, leaving out some of the most painful details, a story he had only told Marie before.