Patricia and Lamont spent the day shopping, talking about things that had happened to each other over the years, and basically getting to know each other. Physically they were about the same age, though Lamont had about 20 on Pat. Eventually the conversation turned to Xander and the slayers. “So what do you think of Xander and the school?” asked Pat as she compared couches.
Lamont, looking for something he liked, stopped and looked at Pat. “Well I don’t think he told us everything about where he is from and why he knows so much about us. But I believe it is more trying to protect others than any desire to be deceitful.”
Pat nodded processing that, “Yes I think so, he seems very… real, maybe more real than anyone since Doc. So I won’t press on what he knows. But I am curious as to why Wayne Enterprises financed this and why me? What did they offer you?”
Lamont laughed “I agree with the not pressing him, if we need I think he will tell us. As to the other, I wasn’t approached by Wayne Enterprises, but by Batman.”
Pat jerked her head up, eyes narrowing. “So he is real, how interesting.” Calling an out of earshot sales person over, she pointed to a couch, a chair, and headed to the fabric book, giving page number and arranged for delivery. When they were out of the store Pat resumed the conversation. “So Wayne Enterprises and Batman are both worried about Slayers?”
Lamont shrugged. “More like Batman called in some favors and Wayne Enterprises is footing the bill for this, it would be pocket change for him. But I suspect from Batman’s high level of involvement in this endeavor, our social circle may contain a large number of people in spandex.”
Pat tsked lightly “And here I left my dress swimsuit at home.” Laughing with Lamont as they turned into an Oriental furniture store that caught Lamont’s eye, trying to finish their mutual shopping.
Pat and Lamont by common consent made no more mention of Xander’s knowledge much to Xander’s relief. The next two weeks passed quickly with ordering supplies, getting permits and Xander finding fourteen alternate exits, and sharing all but the two located in his room with Pat and Lamont. While Xander truly enjoyed the two he was still waiting for the other shoe to drop, while they would be great with the girls, who would need discipline and form more than anything else, Xander knew Batman would not let him get off so easy. He was proven right one evening when Pat and Lamont were out dealing with business matters for their own interests and he looked up to see Batman slipping in a back door.
“Knocking? It is not that hard you know.” Sighed Xander, in the middle of carrying potting soil to the roof.
A cold shrug. “Training now!” And Batman flowed into the training room in the back. Xander shook his head and finished carrying the soil upstairs, then headed into the training room to find a more than usually annoyed Batman standing with a Bo in his hands. “What took you?!”
Xander stopped and looked at him, his eye gone cold. “I was not going to drop potting soil on the stairs to jump at your say so. I may technically work for Wayne Enterprises, but that does not mean YOU own or control me. Get that through your head now. I am happy to learn and help all I can, but drop the fucking attitude or you can go fuck yourself.” There was no flexibility or bravado in his attitude, just sheer will.
Batman blinked ~the kid has more to him than I thought, his happy fool is more of an act than I had realized~ Batman tilted his head a fraction. “So noted.”
That was all the warning he gave as the Bo was swinging at Xander’s head.
Xander dropped, avoiding the staff, he had long ago learned to avoid flying objects, even before Buffy’s arrival. Beer bottles made excellent teachers. Xander rolled forward towards the weapons, but Batman was there brining the Bo down hard. Xander managed to block it, but it still hurt and Batman never even slowed down. Moving left the Bo stopped him, right and again the Bo was there. So Xander changed tactics and went straight in, moving faster than Batman expected and getting inside the Bo’s reach before Batman could hit him with the Bo, but Batman’s knee could still hit him. Xander was nailed in the stomach with a sharp knee, knocked back stumbling. Xander gained his balance quickly but Batman was on him swinging the Bo. So this time Xander simply caught it with both hands and then stepped back and to the side, pulling with his entire body weight and managing for a second to get Batman off balance. Xander attacked with a full palm strike to the kidneys, not pulling a fraction of power from it.
The next thing Xander knew was pain radiating from the heel of his palm up his arm as his hand slammed into one of the body armor plates. Xander’s arm went numb from the pain and Xander turned his good arm towards Batman not giving up or in.
“Enough!” Snapped out Batman, dropping his attack stance. Xander relaxed and fought down a whimper as the pain radiated through his body. “Please tell me exactly how you fought vampires and demons on a daily basis when your fighting skills are that pathetic.” Demanded Batman his tone full of contempt.
“Who me?” Asked Xander sliding to the floor cradling his arm. “I rarely fought them one on one, and most of the time I was just the distraction. Though I do have a few dustings to my name thank you.”
Batman frowned and looked at him. “I do not understand, you are the one that was chosen to help guide these slayers, you talked about battles, you were supposedly a warrior.”
Xander looked and him and started laughing, which non-plussed Batman completely. “I was never a warrior… just the Zeppo.” Darkly sardonic voice.
Batman just stood there looking confused or at least Xander thought that was how he looked through the mask. “You guys really thought I was a fighter or something?” A sharp nod from Batman. Xander sighed. “Sit down… and I will try to explain…k?”
A tilt of the head and then Batman slide down in a crouch leaning against the wall interested in hearing what this boy had to say, how he justified his awful style.
“You have to understand that I was a sophomore in high school, when I literally fell at the feet of the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Buffy Summers. At first I followed her just because I wanted to get in her pants.” A soft bitter laugh at the folly of youth. “But then I found out what she was, and Jesse, my best friend was turned into a vamp. So Willow and I, my other best friend, started helping Buffy the best we could. Willow learned magic and eventually became one of the most powerful witches on the planet. Before we closed the hell mouth, over the years we were assisted by a bunch of people, including: Giles – her watcher who also knew spells and more knowledge than anyone, Oz – a werewolf, Angel – a vampire with a soul, Anya – a 10,000 year old demon, then ex-demon, then demon again, Spike – a chipped, then souled vampire, Ms. Calendar – a techno witch and a gypsy, Tara – a pure hearted Wiccan, and then there was Dawn – a mystical ball of energy made human. Of all those Anya, Ms. Calendar, Tara, and Spike are dead. Buffy died twice, but we called her back. Of all of those who stayed and fought, I was just me… I got donuts, read books, and tried to fix everything.” Xander paused and looked up at Batman with the one dark eye. “I fought as best I could, I never gave up, I never ran away. What else could I have done?”
Batman sat looking amazed at the people this kid had been surrounded by, and for the first time he saw what the others had seen all along. This man did not know the meaning of giving up or running away. He was not skilled in feats of arms, but his heart and soul were unbreakable unless you betrayed him. Even after what Zatanna had implied, he still spoke of his friends with love. No his skills were low, but his heart was not. Batman stood. “Roof, every night 10 pm to 12 someone will be there to train you. Be prepared to hurt, but when we are done I expect you to give me a good work out.” And like that he was gone.
Diana had gone home to Paradise Island, doing research and visiting with her mother and sisters. She was out walking the beach thinking to herself about Xander and the slayers when she heard someone walking next to her. Surprised as she had not heard anyone approached, she turned to look at the person, and then promptly fell to her knees.
“Goddess.” Bowing her head in obeisance to Artemis.
Artemis smiled a bit. “Rise Diana, I didn’t come to have you at my feet, I wanted to talk to you about this Xander and the Slayers.” She continued walking down the beach.
Diana blinked, but rose up and continued walking with her. “What about him and the girls?”
Artemis smiled “Girls they are, but he will help mold them to be incredible women. He is a rare creature, if more men had been like him I would have never needed to create the Amazons or Paradise Island. He is…. Almost pure in spirit. Oh he can be dark, but even at his angriest he would never hurt those he loved or in his charge. But I came to tell you something. Xander is not what he was.”
Diana frowned “What do you mean, not what he was, has something happened to him?”
A soft nod and a smile “Bringing him here from his dimension, his reality, caused something to happen that has not happened in millennia, and he was changed. He is now the Protector of the Slayers and there is little he can’t do for them.”
Something about that phrasing struck Diana as odd, but before she could follow up on it Artemis turned and looked at her. “Help him, be a friend, he is as trustworthy as an Amazon, and one of only two men I have ever met I could say that of. Just remember there is little he can’t do for his Slayers.” And with that Artemis was gone leaving a very puzzled Diana.
Hours later Diana was back at the Watchtower waiting for Batman and Superman to appear, pacing going over and over the conversation with Artemis in her head. Finally she went to the white board that Zatanna had used to explain the dimensions and realities and wrote out what she had been told word for word.
Finally Batman and Superman strode in both muttering something about OMAC but Diana was still looking at the board. “What did you need Diana?”
She looked at both of them, then back at the board. “I had a visitor this afternoon, someone I was not expecting at all.” She glanced back at the two, both standing there waiting, slightly impatient. “Artemis came to see me.”
There was a blank look on both faces for a moment then Batman spoke “Artemis… as in the patron goddess of the Amazons Artemis?” He voice suddenly very quiet.
“Yes, that Artemis.”
Batman suddenly felt the need for a chair somehow he just knew it had to do with Xander.
Diana quickly explained about Artemis joining her for a walk then pointed to the board. “That is the sentence that is bugging me. I understand that he is not what he was, but that last sentence. ‘He is now the Protector of the Slayers and there is little he can’t do for them.’ Disturbs me, and I am not sure why.” All of them turned to look at the phrase on the board, but it was Superman who figured it out.
“When I was about 10 or 12, Ma was beating grammar into my head, and if I asked ‘Can I go play?’ The answer was ‘Yes, you can, but no you may not.’ Can was for things you are capable of doing, may is for things you are seeking permission to do.” Superman spoke slowly, remembering. “So if you assume Artemis has good grammar, she is saying there is little Xander is not capable of doing for the Slayers.”
Both Batman and Diana had wide eyes looking at the board. Diana spoke slowly “The gods are capable of quite a bit. For Artemis to say something like that, she might be putting him on the level of what she can do. But…” She paused looking at it again. “She talked about how he is not what he was. That he was almost pure in spirit. It worries me greatly that Artemis would take such interest in any man. She has cared about very few.” Diana trailed off.
The three of them sat there looking at the board. Finally Batman broke the silence. “Well for now all we can do is wait but I will say this. I kept underestimating that young man, I need to remember not to do that. He told me off and was the first person to make it stick since Alfred. He is…. Something different. He still worries me as I know he will kill, and I suspect there is a lot more he knows about this world that what he has said but….. maybe we need him.” A long speech for Batman and Diana smiled a bit.
“Yes, I do think that also. Now we must take the back seat and see where he leads, I think in this battle, we are no longer the ultimate weapon, now it is up to him... and his slayers.”
Clark sighed sitting down. “Remember what you passed on to us that Zatanna found out. He is the only one of him there is. What are the ramifications of that, when even I, an alien to this planet have other versions?”
The room was silent and no one answered, and they were both scared and relieved about that. Batman spoke up. “I think we need to talk to him again, but this time maybe less prisoner captors routine. We will visit him at his new school.” It was a statement not a question.
Xander sighed, he was rather tired. The place might have been completely constructed, and now thanks to massive efforts of Pat and Lamont it was furnished, but that didn’t mean it was homey feeling or even comfortable. He had spent the day doing painting
jobs, moving furniture from one place to the other under Pat’s direction, customizing the slayers rooms so they felt warm and welcoming, instead of hotel like. But the majority of his effort had been on the roof top garden, getting planting beds set up, and then filling them with soil. And his arm still hurt from yesterday’s encounter with Batman.
So now it was 10, he had been up since 6 getting the furniture in place, following Pat’s directions, and was now about to go get his ass handed to him. All in all… he couldn’t be happier. He felt needed, and maybe… just maybe a tiny bit appreciated.
Climbing the stairs he tried to get himself into the combat mode, and stopped and listened for a moment before opening the door to the roof and then he froze. One idly floating, one standing, annoyance radiating off of him as usually, and a third sitting on one of the planters, her hands digging in the rich soil, all of them were waiting for him. Part of him froze, and part of him relaxed. “Well I guess training is off tonight, but something is up so what is going on?” Trying to be laid back and cool, though his stomach had clenched up into a ball of nerves.
“You’re late.”, snapped out Batman, the irritated one.
Xander sighed glanced at his watch. “Yep, 10 minutes, had to clean up the spaghetti I dropped on the floor before it set. Deal.” No apology, just a statement, and he caught the slight smile on her face before she focused on the soil again.
“I like the planters it is good to have growing things around.” Was the only comment Diana made.
Xander smiled walked towards another one looking at it. “Yeah….the slayers often need to be reminded that there still is life, after all the death they deal with and there are a couple other advantages to having your own plants.”
Batman’s head jerked towards him snapping out a hard question. “Advantages, such as?”
Taken aback a bit by the sudden query he shrugged “Well the fresh vegetables are a nice addition as well as the fresh herbs, but also allows me to grow things that certain magical practitioners might need for spells and what not. Got tired of going to every store in the area looking for the off the wall herbs when they were needed, figured easier to grow them myself.” Not quite sure why this was an issue.
“Magic.” Batman all but spat stalking away, irritation clear in his body language.
A sigh of frustration “Yes magic, the very stuff that brought me here? Zat might not need it to work, but lots of rituals require components…and if you have demons coming in we are probably going to need rituals to get rid of them. Hell I don’t know for sure, but I figured better safe than sorry.” An exasperated Xander snapped out then took a deep breath focusing on the other two. “So what’s up?”
For some odd reason, this caused Superman to realize he was floating and he settled down on the roof with a soft thump. “We have found out something about you… about how bringing you here might have changed you, given you powers you might not know how to control. We are concerned you might decide to misuse them, and get blood on your hands.”
At this point Xander was tired, frustrated, worried they were going to send him back or banish him, and over all very weary of having his heroes prove they were all to human. “Blood on my hands? Because I might.. oh my god have some powers? Please, like you guys are ones to talk, as far as I know Diana here is the only one who is honest about what she is.” He sank down on the planter bed, just watching the three of them waiting.
Both Batman and Superman reacted as if they had been slapped, and Batman stalked towards him snarling. “What exactly to you mean by that, I have never killed anyone!” His voice sharp as a lash with bile laced overtones.
Xander just looked at him and rolled his eye, singularly unimpressed. Superman chimed in, “Batman is correct I have never taken a human life.”
“Really… have you ever bothered to check and see if the ones you beat the shit out of survived?” Asking both of them “But as far as I can see the blood on your hands is not because you do the evil” stressing the word sarcastically “deed of killing someone but because you are not willing to do what is necessary to protect others.”
Batman was in his face enraged “I do protect others.. I have devoted my life to protecting.” All but snarling, his famous patience pushed to the limits by Xander’s words.
“Really…” Drawled Xander; looking at him completely unimpressed. “We talked a bit about killing an innocent to save the world….but you aren’t even willing to kill evil to save lives.”
There was a strange sound from Diana, but none of the men looked at her, Batman was so angry he could barely talk, so Superman took it over.
“What do you mean? We uphold justice and protect people.” He sounded honestly curious and a bit confused, one hand resting gently on Batman’s shoulders but preventing him from moving.
Xander sighed closing his eye, suddenly wishing he had never spoken. “Look… assuming the majority of what I read in my reality was correct… how many people has
Joker killed? 50, 100, 500? His laughing gas rarely leaves anyone alive and he has no qualms about how many he hurts.”
“Exactly!” Spat Batman “That is why I hunt him down every time he escapes.”
“Hmm… so tell me, how many people would still be alive if after the second, or third, or even the fourth time he escaped, and proved there was nothing on this planet that could hold him, if you had killed him, if you had made the decision to carry the burden of killing him, because nothing else was going to stop him.” Xander’s voice was soft but implacable, his hazel eye turned to Superman. “As for you.. I suppose General Zod doesn’t count as human as you did kill him. But I wonder, if you had killed the Parasite how many would still be alive, or Effron….or most of all Lex. How many people would still be living if you had killed him prior to him becoming president? How many people died when the aliens invaded with Imperiex? How many parents would still have their children, how many children still have a mother and a father?” He stood looking at him them, not contempt but sorrow in on his face. “With great power comes great responsibility… I stole that from Spidey…” shrugging at the quizzical looks “In the comics, you could do no wrong, but here you are people and your actions and inactions have real world consequences… so tell me….how many would still be alive.. if you had been willing to kill?”
Superman and Batman just stood there stunned; no one had ever thrown all this in their face before, just asking, not condemning, but with a look of sorrow more than anything else. “Taking a life is hard.. I have killed demons… I have had to face the possibility of killing friends. But it comes down to a simple question… is your clean conscience worth the deaths of others?”
Xander shook himself for a moment looking at them then looked at Diana. “To a certain extent you carry the same burden, but if I remember correctly in the past, you made the choice to kill, when you saw no other option. ‘Fraid I wasn’t as big a fan of your stuff… heck most of the Wonder Woman stuff I remember came from a TV’s series with you as a military officer during World War II, Steve Trevor was your love interest.” A half sad choke left him, and he looked at all three again. “So tell me… even if I was given god like powers….just how much blood could I get on my hands compared to what you have allowed to be shed.”
He turned and walked to the door. “If you feel the need to beat this horse further, come see me tomorrow… I am done for the night.” He shut the door behind him and walked down the stairs.
Diana stood and at looked at the two men. “Amazons are warriors, we always have been… death is a fact in war, I have never had the problem with killing an opponent that you have, but I abided by your cultural mores. Perhaps I was wrong.” With that she was gone, leaving them standing there.
Both turned to look at each other, then Superman was up flying away, fleeing what had been thrown in his face, and Batman was soaring through the air, fighting to not think, heading with all speed back to his lair.
Xander lay on his bed in the darkness, glad that Lamont and Pat had crashed early, and tried not to cry. He started talking to himself softly “So.. I just told off the two greatest heroes this world has ever known… told them their much vaunted values have cost lives.. hell I never even found out what powers they think I might have… the power to hurt? I never wanted that.. I .. “ another half sob “I wanted them to be heroes… to be perfect… but in the end.. they’re human too.” His eyes tightly closed he fell asleep
Authors Note: I still don't own any of this... wish I did.... this is shorter than the last couple, but it is something... enjoy