Disclaimer: The Buffy characters belong to Mutant Enemy and Crack-Head Joss Whedon, although he doesn't deserve any of them, considering the way he's destroyed them over the past couple years. I'm not exactly sure who the Charmed and Commando characters belong to, but I'm definitely sure it's not me. I'm just borrowing all of the characters for a while. There is no intent to profit from this. Only the story is mine.
Category: Action/adventure crossover with the movie 'Commando' and the 'Charmed' TV series.
Summary: After various problems arise for the Scoobies in Sunnydale, Xander makes plans to get on with his life.
Time frame: Alternate Buffy-verse, branching off during the episode "The Gift."
Character Bashing: None. Really. Not even the tiniest little bit. You'll understand after you read the story.
Author's Note: This was inspired by a challenge to tie in the movie 'Commando' and the 'Charmed' TV series, but I don't think that this is exactly what the person issuing the challenge had in mind.
Author's Note 1: As I've noted elsewhere, my head has NOT been a nice place to live in lately. This story is another result of that. Character death and angst ahead, people. Don't say you weren't warned.
Author's Note 2: Many thanks to Lori Bush, Tim Joy, Drake the Archer and Bill Haden for beta-ing this and for their many suggestions that improved this immensely.
Title: Charmed to Meet You
Up until now, Xander Harris had never really taken the time to ponder just how many different ways that life could suck.
The past three weeks, however, had given him more than ample opportunity to reflect on all the various permutations that Fate could take and still manage to screw you over royally, regardless of whatever preparations you might take to try to avoid the appearance of Mr. Murphy and his band of chaos-loving bastards.
Three weeks of lying in a hospital bed gave you plenty of time to ponder everything you might have done differently, and to realize that there was absolutely nothing you could have done to alter the course of events that had taken place.
And, what was even worse, to realize that neither you nor any of the other surviving Scooby Gang members would have done anything differently, even if you had known what Fate had in store for you ahead of time.
Buffy's death last May, in order to save Dawn and the rest of them had been the first major blow in what would be a series of events that had ultimately led to this point in time, to Life Suck-age of the highest order, which had led to other equally devastating developments.
Dawn had blamed herself for both her sister's death and Spike's dusting at the hands of Glory's demonic follower, Doc, and had then retreated into herself, ignoring the outside world and all of the innumerable Scooby Gang attempts to bring her out of her self-inflicted catatonia.
In accordance with Joyce's will and Buffy's clearly expressed desire, Giles had received legal custody of the sole surviving Summers daughter and had taken the virtually comatose young woman with him when he returned to England to take up his place on the Watcher's Council's Board of Directors after the untimely and unlamented passing of Quentin Travers in a botched magical casting, vowing to get her the best possible treatment available, while privately holding to the opinion that nothing short of an absolute miracle would ever bring the Key back to her remaining family and friends. The fact that Dawn had somehow managed to throw Willow out of her mind when the witch had attempted to communicate with her in the same manner she had done with Buffy after Dawn's kidnapping only reinforced the Watcher's pessimistic evaluation of the young brunette's future.
Adding in Willow's heartache, sorrow and rage at her inability to restore Tara's mind before Glory's defeat and subsequent death and the blonde's eventual death when her mindless body had just seemed to finally run down merely reinforced the former Zeppo's belief that the Powers That Be had taken a personal dislike to the Scooby Gang and were going out of their way to screw them over at every available opportunity.
Giles' departure had left Willow, Anya and Xander shorthanded in their efforts guarding the Hellmouth against any would-be hell-raisers, so the Council had pulled some strings and Faith's prison sentence had been commuted to allow her to take her place in Sunnydale with the remaining Scooby survivors.
Things had gone along not-too-badly for a while after that, once he and Willow had resolved their remaining issues with Faith, and he and Anya had actually begun planning their wedding and even considering the possibility that life might actually start improving for all of them, which only went to show you that pretty much every silver lining has a dark cloud behind it.
The four of them battled ever-increasing numbers of demons over the course of the following eight months, kicking ass and taking names the way they had done in less appalling times, when they had chanced upon a newly arrived demonic cult who were intent upon opening the Hellmouth and inviting the Elder demons to come on home. The fact that the Scooby Gang had not only foiled the cult's intentions, but had also managed to finally close the Hellmouth, permanently and irreversibly, in no way made up for the loss of both his fiancée and his best friend from childhood. He still awoke nearly every night, drenched with sweat and hearing the endless echoes of Anya and Willow's final declarations of their love for him as they willingly sacrificed themselves in the counter-ritual that permanently locked the demonic portal and barred the would-be returnees from any access to this world forever more.
Finding out that he had been listed as the sole beneficiary of Anya's surprisingly extensive financial holdings, and thus was now pretty much financially independent, somehow came as no surprise, and actually seemed to him to be more an example of irony.
He had attributed the Dark Slayer's and his own survival to be more of a black cosmic joke by the Bastards That Be than any tribute to their survival abilities, and that idea had only been emphasized that night, barely two months after Anya and Willow's deaths, that he and Faith had managed to emerge virtually unscathed from a battle with eight Fyoral demons, only for the Slayer to die less than an hour later.
It had taken a drunken driver at the wheel of two tons of Detroit's finest to accomplish what endless scores of demons had failed to do. Faith the Vampire Slayer died after some inebriated fool lost control of his vehicle and crashed through the front wall of the Expresso Pump, killing her and four other people and hospitalizing over a dozen other unfortunates, including himself, who had merely been waiting in line for a cup of their overpriced coffee. The driver's death in the crash, too, had deprived him of even the minimal amount of satisfaction that killing the bastard personally might have offered. His last memory was of dragging himself over to the dying Slayer and them saying their goodbyes.
Xander Harris had awoken from his coma five weeks later, to find himself in a bed in the ICU ward of Sunnydale General Hospital, the sole surviving member of the Scooby Gang, with no friends or family around to talk to and help him try to figure out exactly why he had been the one unfortunate enough to survive all the catastrophes and cataclysms they had encountered.
His health insurance, probably the only worthwhile benefit of having acceded to Giles' request to join the Watcher's Council as an independent field agent, had provided him with the best possible treatments available from medical science and he had been discharged, at his own insistence, as soon as he had been able to stand and walk on his own.
His sole remaining problem, now that he was finally out and about on his own again, was simple:
What was he going to do with the rest of his life?
The Red Rocks Amphitheatre was just as impressive as he remembered it to be, Xander decided with a small smile of satisfaction.
Or rather, as the memories of former Staff Sergeant Albert Harris, his father's oldest brother and the original owner of the fatigues he'd worn on that fateful Halloween night four years ago, showed them to be, he then qualified that statement somewhat ruefully.
Albert Harris, the deceased and not-at-all fondly remembered member of the Harris clan, whose memories provided the sole Harris heir with yet more proof for his theory that his having no contact with any other member of his father's family was undoubtedly the smartest decision he'd ever made in his life.
Bert Harris had been a truly stand-out bastard in a family of bastards, and Xander still cringed inwardly at the sheer scope and magnitude of the accomplishments that made that statement possible.
After narrowly escaping being convicted of manslaughter for the deaths of several civilians during a covert operation, Harris had finally been discharged 'for the good of the service' from his US Marine Corps Force Recon battalion despite the incredible degree of expertise he displayed with explosives. Not letting the deaths of the half-dozen people that resulted from his carelessness bother him in the least, Bert had then gone on to become a mercenary involved in numerous operations of dubious legality and of unquestionably little or no moral character. The only requirements Bert had for inclusion in an operation were that it paid well and that he got to blow things up at some point in the mission.
The fact that Bert had ended up dying at the hands of one of his former commanders who was trying to rescue his kidnapped daughter was a fact that Xander considered poetic justice. In fact, had Bert ever tried to do anything along those lines to anyone he cared about, the surviving Scooby reflected, once she saw the fate any such interloper would have received at his hands, Anya would probably have regarded him with awe and held him out as an example to be emulated by her former fellow vengeance demons.
Shrugging off the depression that normally accompanied thoughts of his blood family, Xander got into his car and began heading back to his hotel. His long-delayed resumption of his cross-continental trek had allowed him time to think, to reflect, and to finally come to terms with his life as it now was.
He'd decided that he would continue on with his life as he'd done previously, not being able to ignore the existence of things that went bite in the night, and had retained his position as an independent field agent, a mobile observer who would contact them if, or as was usually his situation, when he found something that didn't look right.
Continuing the physical rehabilitation he'd undergone after leaving the hospital had built him up into possibly the best physical condition he'd ever been in his life, and the money he'd received from both Anya's estate and the various insurance payouts from the policies the Scooby Gang had taken out naming each other as beneficiaries had enabled him to procure most of the equipment he'd determined he'd need. Those items of equipment he couldn't procure legally had been obtained through contacts made using either Bert's memories or Giles and the Council.
The healing of his body had been accompanied by the healing of his just-as-badly-injured soul and he had finally come to grips with the fact that he still survived while virtually all of his loved ones had perished.
The only two people who he still really cared about in this world were Dawn and Giles, and as a senior member of the Watchers' Council, the former high school librarian could provide a much safer and much more secure environment for the virtually catatonic teen than anything he could come up with, especially when you considered the tendencies he apparently still retained to run into the darker and less savory aspects of the world he lived in much more frequently than most people he knew. Hell, much more frequently than anyone Giles or any of his fellow Council members knew, when you got down to it.
Fourteen times in less than half as many months during his four-wheeled excursion across the continent, he'd somehow managed to stumble across vamps, demons or, on six of those occasions, groups of clearly demented humans who were engaged in various arcane practices that threatened to severely disrupt the existing social order.
And each time, with the help of either several of the Council's black ops teams (one of which was backed up by the new Slayer, someone named Kennedy, who he most definitely did not get along with), some hunters he'd run with for a while - two brothers named Sam and Dean Winchester - or locally recruited mercenaries (some of the few times Bert's memories proved to be of actual worth), they'd managed to disrupt those plans and send the participants to meet their forbearers.
His current presence here in Denver, though, was a result of a request from the Council to check out the area, since one of their pet seers had received some sort of vague premonition regarding 'bad things' happening around here.
A flicker of motion from a spot some distance off the road and further up the mountain caught his attention in the fading light, and seeing a brief glimpse of what looked like a woman scrambling through the underbrush, he pulled off the road to investigate.
Somewhere in the mountains outside Denver
Approximately the same time
"Are you okay?"
"It only grazed me. I'll be fine."
"Not a scratch on him, thank Heaven, but he's still asleep from whatever that potion they gave him was. I can't get him to wake up, no matter what I try."
"We need to get out of here as fast as we can. If those bastards find us again, we'll never be able to get away from them a second time."
"I think the car's back the other way. We ran left when we got out of the cave, and the car was to the right."
"Well, excuse me for not wanting to try to fight our way past two dozen fanatical acolytes by myself. You were carrying Chris and you got hit by that energy blast, too, and you can barely manage him, so I kind of doubted that you'd be a lot of good fighting your way through them."
"I'm not complaining, Feebs, just pointing out that we've got to find some other way to get out of here. It's probably ten or twelve miles back to the city and I didn't see much in the way of homes around on our way out here, and being on foot with a bunch of demon worshippers chasing us doesn't leave us in a very good position.."
"Well, duh, Piper."
"You're in a lot better shape than I am, so if they do catch up with us, you've gotta take Chris and run as fast as you can while I hold them off."
"Are you nuts? You won't last five minutes in your condition!"
"If It comes down to my baby being sacrificed or me fighting off a bunch of crazed fanatics, I don't see that there's any choice. It'll give you enough time to find some place to hide in the forest around here and if you can hide out till morning, they'll have to wait another eleven years to perform the ceremony."
"I'm not gonna leave you alone to die."
"Do you want Chris to see his next birthday?"
"It's settled, then."
"Let's get the hell out of here."
Xander had made his way to the spot where he thought he'd seen the woman when he heard what was clearly a woman's scream of pain. Breaking into a sprint, he headed towards the most probable location of the scream.
Bursting through the underbrush, he found himself at the top of a small hill overlooking a clearing, where what could easily pass for a scene from some grade 'B' horror movie was taking place, and he wasn't at all pleased with what he could see.
Two dark-haired, gorgeous women, one of them holding an unconscious baby (that fact was kinda obvious since the kid wasn't screaming its head off in terror at the jostling), were surrounded and being attacked by what looked to be a bunch of asshole rejects from a Harry Potter novel, what with the dark robes and the red and white masks they were all wearing, not to mention the big honkin' knives they were all waving around instead of wands.
Close to a dozen of the robe guys were lying scattered around the clearing, and whether they were alive or dead, he couldn't tell and really couldn't care less; anyone trying to hurt a little kid deserved everything that happened to them, and whatever else he might decide to do to them, once things quieted down. Right now, however, things were still too rowdy for his liking.
One of the women was gesturing at two of the freaks menacing her and the baby, and they suddenly seemed to just freeze in place, while the other woman was taking on the bad guys attacking her, and doing a damn good imitation of a Slayer kicking ass, just without the superstrength and speed.
Unfortunately, however, the freezing-thingy girl had had to turn her back to some of the freaks when she'd zapped their friends, and two of them had taken advantage of her distraction to home in on her unprotected back.
Without any conscious thought, his Beretta PX4 Storms, chambered in .40 S&W's, were bucking in his hands and throwing Dutch-loaded armor-piercing and hollow-point death messengers at the dark-robed attackers, the ruby-hued laser targeting points marking the bullets' destinations. The would-be demon summoner/baby killer closest to the woman carrying the baby dropped in his tracks as his head suddenly seemed to explode, splattering blood and grey matter on the abruptly-dead assailant's companion, which made him (or her, the stray notion blossomed in his thoughts; after all, he'd met more than his share of bloodthirsty women in the past few years) and the other freaks, as well as both women, stop in their tracks and look to see where the unexpected attack had come from.
Which made taking down the rest of the freaks a piece of cake.
Tiny red dots targeted ankles, visible below the hem of the robes that each of the would-be butchers wore, an instant before a high-velocity slug brought each of the remaining nutjobs to the ground without killing them, although it did make for a lot of screaming and cursing.
"Hi there. You guys need a ride home, by any chance?" Xander asked casually as he approached the two women, ignoring the shrieks of pain as he stepped around the bodies littering the ground as he approached the center of the clearing and the two women there.
"Excuse me a minute, please," he said to the two cautiously staring women before turning and responding to the outraged declarations of retribution and vengeance that one of the more outspoken individuals was issuing with a surprising amount of vehemence.
"Look, dipshit," he said, as he kicked the apparent leader of the group in the stomach to quiet him, "shut up and listen.
"It's pretty obvious that none of you guys are too smart, so I'm gonna make things as clear as I can for all of you," he went on as he pulled the outspoken freak's robe aside and leaned down to pull the guy's wallet out of his back pocket.
"Hey, give me that back!" the putz yelled, his attitude one of outrage at Xander's actions as he watched the newcomer walk around and do the same thing to each of the other figures lying in the clearing. "You've got no right to do that!
"That's stealing!" he declared somewhat self-righteously.
"Listen carefully...Calvin Bartholomew Thorpe," Xander read the name off the driver's license he held in his hand with a snicker. "Bartholomew, huh?
"First off, all of you need to shut up and listen to me very carefully if you want any chance of getting out of here alive.
"Second, you need to keep in mind that you and all those other assholes who are still alive and who were trying to kill those two ladies standing over there with the baby, are lying on the ground, screaming and bleeding, and the guy who put you there - that's me, by the way - is also still here, with his guns, talking to you, and he's rapidly running out of patience," he pointed out to the suddenly very quiet man staring up at him.
"I don't like killing people unnecessarily, but I don't like people who try to kill innocent people, especially babies, even more," Xander informed his abruptly deathly quiet, very attentive audience.
"I also want to point out that I've got everything I need to find all of you people any time I want, right here," he noted as he help up the various wallets he had gathered a moment earlier, "and you assholes don't have the faintest idea of who I am or how to even begin trying to find me.
"I'm going to make things very, very clear for you here, because it's obvious to me you're all a bunch of mental defectives who should have been flushed from the gene pool a long time ago.
"If anyone or anything bothers either of these two ladies or that little baby again at any time in the future, I'm going to come back here and kill all of you, and I'll probably do it in the most painful way I can think of, since I'll be very, very pissed off at all of you assholes for making me come back," he declared in a voice that was all the more chilling because of its very matter-of-fact tone.
"And as far as any threats of vengeance go, Calvin," Xander turned his attention back to the now-silent loudmouth, "my former fiancée was a vengeance demon, so I've got a better-than-fair idea of exactly what kind of acts can justify one of D'Hoffryn's people granting a wish. And all I can say about them is, I really don't think that any of you guys ever want to draw their attention to you by wishing for vengeance. They'll grant you one, then check out your past life and probably offer one to all of the other people you've managed to piss off or screw over in your lives.
"So, do we understand each other, now?"
As he finished speaking, he casually turned and shot one of the robed figures, who had been furtively trying to pull a pistol from a holster concealed at the small of her back, through the shoulder, splattering the woman's blood across the other figures lying near her as her pistol went skittering off into some scrub brush.
"I said, do we understand each other now?" the tall brunet repeated himself, ignoring the woman's loud screams and the reflexive scrambling by the closest cult members to remove themselves from the vicinity of Xander's latest target.
His question was instantly answered by an enthusiastic chorus of affirmatives as the remaining cultists all loudly indicated their understanding of his edict of a moment before, while simultaneously wondering when and where they could get their pants cleaned and washed.
"Okay, then," the brunet nodded, "you keep all of that in mind, and we'll get along fine.
"So, ladies," Xander then turned to smile at the cautious stares the two brunettes were giving him, "you look like you could probably use a ride back into town. Can I offer you a lift?"
Piper and Phoebe glanced at each other, not completely certain of exactly how to respond to their mysterious savior's offer.
While their unexpected knight-in-slightly-tarnished-armor had unquestionably managed to save them from a very difficult situation, years of experience dealing with the darker side of the mystic world had taught them that that fact alone didn't necessarily make him one of the good guys.
As far as they knew right now, he might have his own reasons for rescuing them from the cultists, ones that had nothing whatsoever to do with helping out the forces of Light, and everything to do with empowering himself at their and Chris' expense, so they had to be careful dealing with him, despite the obvious debt of gratitude they so clearly owed him.
"Actually, we've got our own car somewhere around here," Piper answered him after a brief moment's reflection. "If you could help us find it, we'd really appreciate it.
"What's the matter, can't you use a scrying spell to find it?" Xander immediately asked, causing both witches to gape at him in wide-eyed amazement at the suggestion.
"I'm asking 'cause I saw you freeze some of these mooks back there when they were trying to attack you," he added helpfully.
Casting a glance at the various injured cultists lying scattered across the clearing's floor, Xander suggested, "Why don't we move this discussion to someplace where these idiots can't hear us talking?"
Nodding their agreement, the sisters began retracing their steps back towards the area where they believed their car was parked, while waiting for Xander to continue with his explanation.
"A friend of mine was a Practitioner, as you'd probably call her," he began after a few moments of silence passed. "We both grew up in a place called Sunnydale, in California, and we both knew, growing up, that there was something kinda weird about it, even if we couldn't say exactly what it was, exactly.
"We found out about the reason behind the weirdness our sophomore year of high school, when this little, bitty blonde transferred into our high school. Turns out she was the Slayer, the one girl in all the world Chosen by some unknown, not to mention uncaring, powers to fight demons and all of the other things that go bite in the night. It also turns out that the town was home to the Hellmouth, an interdimensional crossroads of various demonic planes, and a place demons loved to come to, to party. After a while, there were a group of us supporting her in the fight, helping to kick demon ass and prevent anyone from opening the Hellmouth.
"Buffy - she was the Slayer," Xander noted proudly, "she died two years ago this coming May, keeping a Hell-goddess from opening up a portal back to her home that would have caused the end of the world.
"We, all of us - me; Willow, she was the witch; Anya, my fiancée (she was a former vengeance demon); Faith, the Slayer who replaced the girl who was Called after Buffy died the first time- we kept on fighting, even after Buffy died again," he informed the pair of puzzled but quietly listening women, "because we couldn't just stand back and not do anything, once we knew about the dark things out there, even though we knew the dangers involved.
"Willow and Anya died a year ago last week, closing the Hellmouth permanently," he said, managing to not choke up as he noted the date of his love ones' sacrifice. "And Faith died two months later, in an accident that left me laid-up for five weeks.
"Once I woke up and could get out of there, I left town. There isn't anything there for me any more, so I've been on the move pretty much ever since," he noted. "I work for a group that tries to keep an eye and a lid on any bad stuff that might be going on, so that it doesn't get to the point where the military have to start thinking about maybe calling in an air strike, or worse.
"That's part of the reason I jumped in, back there. Crazy-ass cultists trying to sacrifice innocent blood to whatever they're praying to is usually a very bad thing, as far as I'm concerned," he explained.
"But I really don't think those yahoos will be bothering you again, once I get their ID's back to the people I work for," he added, obviously trying to reassure the two of them. "Some of the Council's people will be keeping a fairly close eye on them for the foreseeable future, to make sure they don't try anything like that again."
"Oh, by the way, my name's Xander Harris," he introduced himself, when he finally realized he hadn't done so earlier.
Seeing the uncertainty in both women's faces as they hesitated before introducing themselves, he smiled and waved off their reluctance. "Hey, don't worry about it. This is obviously not the kind of place where you should be introducing yourself to strange men."
Shaking her head in disagreement, Phoebe stuck out her hand towards him. She hadn't gotten any kind of negative vibes from their surprise knight errant since he first appeared, so she didn't see why they couldn't be on at least a first name basis. Besides, if he was half as competent as he appeared to be, he'd probably be able to track them down from what he already knew about them. And once he saw their license plate, it'd be child's play to locate them.
"Hi, Xander. I'm Phoebe," she smiled at him, reaching out for his hand.
The moment she touched his skin, the flash hit her like a lightning bolt.
An instant of sensation so intense it was almost surreal.
Two bodies entwined.
Virtually boundless joy and happiness.
The sight of a tiny infant nursing a breast and a feeling of elation and exhilaration so encompassing that she felt like she might cry from the intensity of the empathetic reaction.
And the image of an auburn-haired woman whom she had never seen before holding the baby and being held by the man before her.
One for whom she felt a sense of kinship so strong that she would swear she was her sister.
But none of them, not Pru, not Piper nor herself had auburn hair, so it couldn't be any of them.
< It must just be some kind of carry-over feeling, > she decided, as the virtually instantaneous flash passed, leaving her gasping from the unexpectedly joyous premonition she'd just experienced.
But whatever it was, it left her with the undeniable conviction that whoever this Xander Harris might be, he was going to form an important and indisputable part of the Halliwell family's lives from this moment forward.
Ignoring Piper's bewildered frown and the puzzled expression of the man standing before her, Phoebe pulled Xander forward and enveloped him in as powerful a hug as she could manage.
"I can't begin to tell you how glad I am to meet you, Xander. Just wait 'til you meet the rest of the family... Ever been to San Francisco?"