Title: Lesser Men
Author: Jedi Buttercup (jedi_buttercup @yahoo.com)
Disclaimer: All your Buffy and Angel are belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & etc.
Summary: Jonathan finds a direction. Wesley feels like a target.
Spoilers: Everything up to "Normal Again" (6:17) in B:tVS and "Sleep Tight" (3:16) in A:tS.
Series: 1st of 12 in Lesser Men series
Notes: This story was the very first fan fiction I ever wrote, back in March of 2002. Caveat lector.
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Chapter One: Farewell, Sunnydale
They'd left him alone with the monitors again. Jonathan was beginning to wonder ... no. If he was going to be honest with himself, he'd have to admit that he'd been wondering for a very long time now what Warren was really up to.
It had been so much fun at the beginning. He'd been recognized again, important, playing on the same level as the Slayer and getting away with it. Not only that, he and his fellow super-villains had much better stuff than she did! A cool lair, a freeze gun, minions, money, chicks ...
Jonathan swallowed. Well, the chick thing hadn't gone so well. Hadn't they said, way back at the beginning, ix-nay on the urder-may? And look where that had gotten them. Katrina was dead. Katrina! Warren's ex! How had that happened? Where had their plans gone wrong?
Andrew didn't even seem to care anymore. He was like Warren, Part II. Fitting, maybe, since until he'd hooked up with Jonathan and Warren, he'd been just "Tucker's little brother". Sure, the "Run, Juliet" thing was funny and all, but when people thought about trained demons attacking the school, Tucker's devil dogs were what they remembered first. Not Andrew's flying monkeys. Seriously. Prom vs. school play? No contest.
Jonathan sighed, and tried to shake off the cloud of depressing thoughts. The same ideas had been running in circles through his mind for days now, weeks even, and he was no closer to a solution. All he did was lose sleep, and Warren was getting more and more impatient with him. What was he going to do? He couldn't leave. Sure, he had magic, but nothing on a grand scale. With Warren's gadgets, and Andrew's summoning powers, they could hunt him down in no time.
He should have known. He should have realized a long time ago that this was going to turn out just like the other time he tried to be Jonathan the Great. Buffy had said something wise then, about him treating people like socks ... wait, that couldn’t be right. Socks? Anyway. He had been practically king of Sunnydale, but there had been this dark side to all that power, that he hadn't known about at the beginning. And how had that turned out? The Slayer had bailed him out of it and returned him to obscurity.
It didn't look like that was going to happen this time. On the monitors, Jonathan could see Buffy huddled under a stairway, while her friends were getting pounded on. She looked almost catatonic. Were more people going to die? More people's lives on their heads? And not just Buffy and her friends. Didn't Warren realize? Without Buffy and the others around and active, the evil population would skyrocket in Sunnydale.
Warren might think they were big enough supervillains to hold off competition, but Jonathan wasn't so sure. What could they have done against the Mayor, for example? Or Adam? Sooner or later they were going to have to move off the Hellmouth, and then what? Some of Warren's gadgets depended on the strange effects the Hellmouth had on the laws of physics, and it would be a lot harder for Andrew, too, since the demons would have to travel further for less power. Not to mention the difficulty Jonathan would have getting ingredients for spells, unless they went to another hotspot like L.A., and they'd just run into more problems there. They'd be small fish in a very big pond.
Buffy was saying something on the monitors. Jonathan focused on the screen as her lost look suddenly cleared into her resolve face, and she leaped into the fray. He found himself holding his breath, watching intently as if she were fighting his problems instead of Andrew's unpronounceable demon.
It died. More than that, it died emphatically, with slime dripping off of Buffy's hand. She hadn't been that strong since they'd started surveilling her. Where had that come from? How had she shaken the poison off?
"Does it matter?" Jonathan said aloud, touching an index finger to the screen where the body was displayed. "She got out of it. How does she do that? She always gets out of it. I am so on the wrong side."
He turned then, looking around at the trappings of their lair. Where were the beanbag chairs, the imaginary schematics, the whiteboard with fun goals like "Conjure Fake I.D.s" and "Miniaturize Fort Knox"? They had suddenly gone all Initiative down here. He still had a few fuzzy memories rattling around from his day as Mr. Levinson, Tactical Advisor, and the comparison was sobering. The Initiative had seemed like such a good thing, but then there was Adam.
"Enough." He was no Buffy, but surely if she could snap out of her hallucinations, he could conquer the apathy and cowardice that were keeping him here.
Wait! That was it! He was no Buffy ... but he didn't have to be Jonathan, either ...
A few minutes later, Warren's monitors fuzzed out for a few moments, as the front door opened and then banged shut. Jonathan exited the house, muttering Latin under his breath, dressed in old sweats and carrying a duffel bag. He turned to look at the front door again, smiled grimly, then turned right and started down the sidewalk.
He had just one more stop to make on his way out of town. He needed a quiet place to perform the disguising spell again, and the ruins of the old Sunnydale High School seemed as good a spot as any.
Every time he passed by this place, he always wondered why the city didn't raze the rubble and use the land for something else. It was a waste, and more than that, it was a hazard to the community. Anyone could just wander into the crumbling structure and get hurt.
Or maybe not. Sunnydale residents usually made a point of ignoring things that weren't normal, and the old high school certainly fit the bill. Even if you didn't know the Hellmouth was there, which most people didn't, there were little pieces of Demon-Mayor all over the place ...
"Eww." Jonathan lifted his right shoe, wrinkling his nose at something that had crunched under his step. "Speaking of."
He shook his head and moved onward, finding a relatively open space. He set his duffel bag down, then paused to look around for a moment. If this was going to be the last hour he ever spent in Sunnydale, this was a pretty appropriate place to be.
There, where the stairs had been, he'd once been called a stallion. It was a joke, obviously; Harmony had been making fun of Cordelia at the time. That had been cool. And not, of course; but the dissing-Jonathan part was pretty normal. The dissing-Cordelia part had been unusual enough to enjoy.
Not that he hated Cordelia, really; they were just at opposite ends of the popularity scale. She had given him six bucks once, even if it was just to get his vote, and there was that time she'd let him order coffee for her. Or something. It had had this name a mile long, and he hadn't even gotten it right.
He'd always messed things up, when he was here. Except for Latin, anyway, and chess, and stuff like that. Stupid athsma. Stupid height problem. He'd always be short. What had Warren said? "Short and insane." Pretty accurate, really. Why else had he peed in the pool?
Jonathan laughed bitterly. He'd come a long ways since then. And yet, not very far at all. Four years, was it? Something like that. And he was still at the bottom of the barrel. If he'd only managed to get in with the Slayer early, like Willow and Xander ...
Nah. No use kicking himself over that, at least. How could he have known? He'd barely wondered about the group that always camped in the library, until the evidence had started to pile up, and then it was too late. They were geeks, too, but they were geeks with a mission, and he was just ... he was just Jonathan.
The magic had been a cool thing. It had surprised him, that he could do it, and it actually worked. Except for that one spell, but the other kid hadn't mentioned the monster! Anyway. It was the first talent anyone had ever sought him out for. Now, it would be the talent he used to make sure they didn't seek him out again.
Jonathan shook off the cloud of thought, and bent to unzip the duffel bag. Under the magic supplies and his favorite action figures, there was a folded charcoal-colored sweater, several sizes too big for him, and a pair of black slacks. New shoes, too, and new socks, even new underwear -- he'd practiced this particular disguise before, and knew what sizes he would need.
This had been another of Warren's sneaky little plans, actually. He'd told Jonathan to work up "a special disguise", an ace in the hole, for when they might need to distract the Slayer without alarming her. It had never panned out. There had been no opportunity, first of all, and then they had gone beyond such small-time games.
Not that Jonathan minded. It gave him the perfect new identity. He'd never told Warren who he'd picked to imitate, for one thing. Also, the only people he knew of in the country that might recognize his new face were here in Sunnydale, or else in some godforsaken secret hideyhole.
Even if there was someone in the city who'd know, Jonathan would probably never meet them! If he found a magic shop right away, he could keep the disguise as long as it took for Warren to give up, or until Buffy pounded Warren into the ground. Jonathan wasn't picky. He'd take either one.
He undressed swiftly, wrapping his sweats around a gallon Ziploc he'd stuffed with money, and pulled on the other outfit. He kept one hand wrapped up in the waistband of the slacks, trying to keep them up until he could finish the spell, then dug into the magic supplies with the other.
Several minutes later, the Hellmouth had the rubble to itself once more; in the distance, a cab headed towards the City of Angels ...