Passing Ships – Spirit Story #4
Passing Ships, a Spirit Story
Dawn was woken up at almost four in the morning by the ringing of her phone. "Ello, this had better be an apocalypse." She growled into the receiver, not even opening her eyes.
"He's back!" came a breathless cry from the other side of the line.
The apparent twenty year old sat up in bed, pulling her long hair out of her face, and reaching for a lamp on the nightstand. "Who's back Willow?"
The reply which she received shocked her to her core. "Xander."
Xander had died almost three months before. Stricken ill after drinking tainted water on yet another mission in Africa, the continent he had almost single handedly cleared of hostile demons according to any of "his" slayers, he had been laying on his deathbed in the London Council Headquarters, when Willow had cast a spell to merge his soul with a nascent spirit which was apparently gestating within his core. Te hoped for result was a new Slayer Spirit, or at least that was what the Power's Oracles had claimed. The actual result as far as they could tell at the time was the simple destruction of Xander Harris's Immortal Soul. If Willow hadn't been so hard on herself at the time for her participation in the spell, Dawn would have hated her. As it was the last two living Scoobies had hardly spoken to one another since then.
"Are you sure?" Dawn asked the distant Wicca.
"Positive. All the locator spells I'd cast since that night went off at once. He's in San Francisco right now." Willow answered.
"San Francisco? Do you, do you think he's chosen a new Slayer?" Dawn asked.
"I can't tell. I have the old council's Slayer Detection Spell, but it goes nuts with all the Slayers still alive. Remember, that spell was designed back when there was 'One girl in all the world' so it only had to show the one Slayer. Our new multi-slayer spell is tied to the scythe, and that one doesn't show anyone new in San Francisco, just Kristin. But we could go to San Francisco and try the short-range council spell. That one should work, as long as we ignore Kristin's influence on it. I think I can exclude her if she's in a circle at the time."
Dawn wasn't sure what to say about that. She had missed Xander more then even Buffy for some reason. Perhaps it was because Buffy had died once before, but Xander had always been a part of her life. For over forty years Xander had been there for her whether she wanted him or not. When the day came that she realized he really was gone, it had been devastating. The only other time she could remember feeling so lost was when her Mother had died. But unlike with her Mother, she hadn't even realized how much a part of her life, even absent as he had been for many years, he had been. And it wasn't just her. It was like every member of the Council, be they Slayer, Watcher, or Witch had had a Xander Story, a personal tale of how he personally saved their life in one way or another. The day he had died, even though most people hadn't known it, the entire world had mourned his passing. A surprising number of demons had even shown up either at his service or afterwards to pay their respects.
And now, according to Willow, he was back. Dawn told Willow she'd meet her there and hung up to call the airlines. She was going to San Francisco, and nothing was going to stop her.+=+
Sally could almost dismiss the events of the night before as a delusion of some sort. Almost.
The shattered clock radio on her nightstand, where she had casually slapped the snooze button provided forevermore mute testimony to the reality of the changes in her reaction times and strength.
The bent metal handle of her hair brush provided yet another piece of evidence.
And the voice in her head commenting on her choice of breakfast cereal provided the final bit of evidence.
"I'm just saying," it was saying, "with a Slayer type metabolism, you need more sugary goodness in your morning diet. And caffeine. Nothing peps a slayer up in the morning better than a big steaming cup of caffeinated coffee. With lots of crème and sugar."
"Are you sure you aren't describing what YOU would want for breakfast?" she grumbled out loud, too tired this early in the day to try subvocalizing to Xan, the voice in her head.
"Did I say Twinkies and Hot Cocoa?" the voice asked.
"No. You said sugary cereal and coffee." Sally replied.
"Then I'm not describing my ideal breakfast. Just a general rule for Slayers." Xan replied.
"But I'm not a Slayer, you said I'm a Protector." Sally elucidated.
"Protector or Slayer, the metabolism is probably the same. In fact, it's likely you might need even MORE sugar and carbohydrates if you have both the Hyena and the Slayer mojo going for you. Oh, and a nice big rare steak. Do you feel like a steak?"
Sally hated the voice in her head. It was WAY too perky this time of the day. "No, I don't feel like a steak. I'm a strict vegetarian. I don't eat anything with a face."
The voice in her head seemed to take a step back at this revelation. "But"
"No butts either. Nothing with a face, or a Butt." Sally affirmed, mostly to shut the damn voice up for a while.
"Have you considered Twinkies dunked in Hot Chocolate? No faces there, other than the happy ones of the people lucky enough to eat them." Xan finally asked.
"NO TWINKIES! I HATE THE DAMN THINGS!" Sally yelled, likely loud enough to startle her neighbors. Certainly loud enough that she could still hear the echoes of her own voice coming back to her from other rooms in the house.
She could feel the shock radiating from Xan at her outburst. She almost felt sorry for the eager spirit. Almost. It was too damn early in the morning. She needed a shower.+=+
Willow called Dawn as she was about to leave for the airport, and asked her where she was, exactly.
"I'm about to leave the Council Offices, to try and get to the airport to catch my flight which leaves at 9:30, which is in an hour and a half. Why?" Dawn asked, perturbed.
"Go down to the Wiccan Studies chamber" Willow instructed, "Find Jennifer and her coven. They should be ready for you by the time you get there."
"Why would I want to go down there, when I am late for the airport already?" Dawn asked, starting to lose her patience with her oldest remaining friend.
"They should have a spell ready for you. We're going to teleport to San Francisco. The coven there is all ready with a receiving circle, and I'm going to go to you, and then we'll both go to them."
Dawn shuddered at the thought, then reconsidered it. She had been teleported once before ten years ago, when she had been needed in Spain to help stop an apocalypse. Afterwards, she had insisted on a normal airline flight back home to Cleveland, and vowed never to be teleported again for anything less than another apocalypse. But this was Xander. Or at least Willow thought it was. And on the scale of things, a possible Xander was as important, at least to her, as was another apocalypse. "Fine. But I'm flying back here the normal way. Got it?"
Willows relived babble assured her it wouldn't be a problem. With a sigh Dawn hung up the phone and took a final look around her office before heading down to find Jennifer's coven.+=+
Issues came to a head as Sally was driving to school. A red sportscar, possibly a Vette, cut in front of her lane, causing her to slam on the brakes.
Unfortunatly, her new strength and reaction time resulted in her slamming the break pedal through the bottom of her car, and the vehicle behind her slamming into her own suddenly immobile vehicle.
As the other cars on the road started honking at the unexpected obstacle in their course created by the two interlocked cars, Sally felt her temper finally let go completely. "That's IT! I WANT YOU THE FUCK OUT OF MY HEAD AND OUT OF MY LIFE! GET OUT! NOW!" she screamed, slamming the door off her car in her rage, the twisted metal providing further evidence of her rage, and it's cause.
Xan seemed to shirnk to a point inside her mind, before finally replying, "Ok. I'll try, Sally. If I succeed you shouldn't hear from me again, so I'll take this time to wish you a long and happy life. Goodbye."
Sally suddenly felt a wrenching sensation inside her mind, a wash of vertigo flooding over her senses, and then everything went black.+=+
Dawn and Willow rode through the streets of San Francisco, driven by Marcus, Kristen's mage/watcher. They were following the old Council Slayer Locater Spell, which was working surprisingly well, once they had Kristin contained in a circle which blocked mystical energies.
The signal had led them on a curving course, as though their target was close but moving for the last half-hour. But now the course was steady and unchanging, indicating that the target had come to rest.
Just ahead traffic was blocked by what looked like a rather nasty collision, one car rammed firmly into the rear of another, the front car's door somehow torn off in the impact, and an ambulance and paramedics on scene to transport at least one of the passengers. It was as the ambulance pulled away that they realized their slayer must be inside, the target suddenly shifting around like a compass by a speaker.
"Dang it!" Willow cursed, "Either she's in the ambulance, or one of the EMTs. What do you want to bet our new slayer was in the crash?"
"It's a well known fact that Slayers can't drive. Their reaction times are too quick, they tend to over-correct and scare everyone to death, as well as causing several near-accidents with the vehicles around them" Marcus pointed out.
"Tell me about it, Buffy was my sister, remember?" Dawn replied, as Marcus pulled out of line and maneuvered around the wreck so he could follow the ambulance.+=+
Sally came back to awareness in a vehicle. She was lying on a bed, in a vehicle. With a siren. Finally piecing the bits together, she decided she was in an ambulance. "Wha?" she managed, her world still spinning. The sound of the siren was painfully loud. She really wished it would shut up, or she would pass out again, she really didn’t care which.
"Miss? It's ok. You've been in an auto collision. Your car was struck from behind, and you were somehow thrown through your door and into the street despite your seatbelt. We're taking you to the hospital. You should be fine in no time. Just lay back, relax, and enjoy the ride."
"Siren loud." Sally managed to whine out, trying to raise her hands to cover her ears, but they seemed to be tied down somehow.
"That's ok, honey. We're almost there. It won't be on for much longer."
Sally tugged against whatever was holding her arms down, and heard a pair of snapping sounds, her arms suddenly free to move.
"Jesus Christ!" the attendant said, jumping back from her as she raised her hands up and futilely placed them against her ears to try and mute the sound.+=+
By breaking several traffic laws, Marcus had managed to catch up with the ambulance as it wound its way through the streets towards its destination. "Damn, now I feel like a lawyer" he muttered as he ran another red light so he could stay on the ambulance's tail.
The ambulance finally came to rest at a hospital emergency entrance, where the occupants of the car watched as someone on a gurney was removed and carried inside the facility, the locator spell swinging wildly to follow the action. When several minutes later the attendants returned with an empty gurney, the question of the identity of the Slayer was answered by the immobility of the detection spell. Whoever had been wheeled into the hospital was the new Slayer.
Parking the car in the visitor lot, the three occupants prepared to venture inside in search of their target.+=+
Sally was relieved by the silencing of the siren. That was of the good.
But the hospital itself was an even worse torture for another of her senses, her sense of smell.
Everywhere were hideous chemical smells, and odors she could only tentatively identify as death and sickness.
As soon as she was inside the emergency room she found herself wishing to be back in the ambulance with the annoyingly loud siren.
Unfortunately there didn't seem to be any friendly Djinn around to grant her wish. And even when she called out loud for Xan, the voice in her head remained stubbornly silent.+=+
The Doctor handling triage had preliminarily diagnosed the new female patient as suffering from a concussion. She had apparently been suffering from hypersensitivity in the ambulance, complaining about the siren as they drove her here. According to the ride-along-attendant, she had also somehow managed to break the tie-downs on the stretcher, but hadn't reacted violently, simply tried to cover her ears.
After her arrival in the Emergency Room, her complaints had shifted from sounds to smells, as she started complaining loudly about the various odors surrounding her.
In all honesty, he could smell what she was describing as well, but none of the odors were anywhere as strong as her reactions indicated. He ordered an MRI even as she started calling out for someone named Xan to help her.+=+
Willow and Dawn made their way into the Emergency room, and up to the nurses desk, Marcus trailing quietly behind.
The admissions nurse looked up at the three apparently uninjured and healthy people, and offering a professional smile asked, "Can I help you?"
Dawn spoke first, "There was a patient just brought in, from a car crash."
"Name?" the nurse asked, bringing her computer online for a standard patient search.
Dawn looked at Willow who shrugged. "We don't know. We know her, but we don't know her personally."
The nurse frowned at them, "We can't release any patient information unless you are immediate family. And most family at least knows each other's names."
Willow tried, "Yes, but we don't want any information about her, we just need to." Willow cut off as a female voice could be heard from one of the rooms down the hall calling out "Xan!"
Dawn looked at Willow. Willow looked at Dawn. Both women turned as one and bolted towards the room from which the voice emanated, the nurse calling out to them "Stop, you can't go in there!"+=+
Sally was still calling out futilely for Xan when two women came rushing into the room, one a graying redhead in her mid to late fifties, and the other a young twenty year old brunette with long straight hair.
They both looked at her, and rushed over, "Were you calling for Xander?" the redhead asked.
Sally blinked at them. "Xander? That was the name of the man."
The women looked at each other, as the nurse and the doctor pursued them into the room. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave immediately" the nurse began as she stepped in, the attending physician right behind her.
"Which man?" the brunette asked.
"The one Xan told me about." Sally replied.
The two women looked at each other, then almost simultaneously they asked, "Is he ok?" "Where is he?"
"Ladies" the nurse prompted.
Marcus had meanwhile joined them, silently standing in the doorway behind the doctor and the nurse.
Sally tried to answer. "Last night. Xan told me about Xander, and how he died. Xan saved my life last night. And then this morning, everything was wrong. I got mad. I told Xan to go away. I think. I think she did. I miss her, I want her back. Please get Xan back." Sally cried, locking eyes with first one woman than the other. She noticed that they were both starting to cry. The redhead looked at her younger companion, and they exchanged a hug, before the redhead told her, "If we can find him, we'll tell him."
Sally tried again, "Please. Tell Xan I want her back. Please."
Sally was crying herself as the two women were led out of her room.+=+
Xan found herself elsewhere. Looking down into the darkness, she saw what was once a familiar sight to her memories, although never from this perspective before.
A fortyish Slayer was facing off against several demons.
Laying on the ground near her was an obviously dead hunter from her team, his head twisted to an unnatural angle.
And pinned by another demon, being held as a shield was another man who she identified as most likely the Slayer's Watcher.
Xan felt almost drawn to the man, as though being reeled in like a fish on a line.
Once more, she reached out and touched the man's mind, and issued her offer, "I can help, if you want. But I must warn you, it'll be a life-long commitment." The words were different this time though, while the concepts were identical, the actual words were in Russian.
The trapped watcher, much like Sally had done looked around nervously, at least as much as he could while being held by the demon. Finally he whispered softly, "Da.", and Xan spoke once more, pulling a name from the man's mind, "Very well, Pitor, I Choose you.", and with that she flowed into his body, giving him her strength, speed, and reflexes.
The watcher shifted subtly in the demon's arms, before suddenly exploding into motion. The demon lasted only seconds against the newest Protector, and then together with the Slayer, they turned their attentions on the remaining five demons. There wasn't the slightest question as to the outcome of the fight at that point.
Xan almost pitied the demons. Almost.End