Fic: Child or Rao...the origin
Disclaimer: none of the characters are mine and are copyrighted by the companies and people who own or use them.
BTVS/Justice League cross.
Mid Season 3 Post Zeppo.
The day went on in the long, tedious and overly familiar manner as it usually did. The school clock mocked him by ticking ever so slowly. Yep Xander was bored. But soon the moment would be at hand and so would a sandwich. For lunch was coming!
He'd grabbed a tray and took it to the courtyard and sat at one of the concrete tables that encouraged either bad or perfect posture depending on if and how far the stick up your ass was. He sat down with his food while he was unconsciously staying away from the side that had the shade. He wasn't sweating so there was no problem there.
He was quiet while he munched on his sandwich and listened to Willow and Buffy talk in hushed whispers, still in awe of themselves and what they had done the night before.
Xander understood that you needed to pat yourself on the back every now and again, but they'd apparently been doing this most of the day. He'd seen the Hellmouth beast before, and he'd assumed it was a guardian of sorts since it just sat there and attacked anything in range. From the pattern of the corpses last night, about half of the Sisters had been taken out by the beastie and the rest by the Slayers and Angel. At least, that's how the scenario played in his head. Odds are, he was right. The remnants of the soldier and his eye for details let him do some decent backtracking when necessary.
But back to the current moment in time. Buffy and Willow were still going on with the 'oohs and aahhs' while he'd done quite a bit and just gone on with his day as best he could. Sure he'd done some things last night he hadn't before, on particular thing he wouldn't mind doing again. Repeatedly. That was besides the point. The girls hadn't really talked to him at all. Granted he hadn't forced his way into their conversation with the metaphorical crowbar like he had to do on occasion, but it would be nice for them to at least acknowledge his presence. Mentally shrugging he got up and put his tray back in the cafeteria.
As he did so, he'd passed Cordelia and she'd sniped at him again. She was pulling the 'Xander equals useless' card. He smirked, something not seen too often post Hyena-boy and said “Whatever Cor.” He kept walking while she continued trying to get his attention by insulting his masculinity and lineage.
Following an odd urge, he walked up to the roof and just sat there. He was enjoying the peace and the comforting heat of the black rooftop. He also let his mind wander. Generally he wasn't the contemplative type but last night had been a bit of an eyeopener.
He was capable of fighting the darkness on his own, but he still recognized the safety of numbers. He'd wondered if Faith would be willing to spar with him a bit to try and help him get back the soldier's instincts. Giles was no help and Wesley would just scoff and ask that he leave or do something else to be of more use.
As he sat in the sun, he'd wondered exactly how much of Faith was real and how much was a front? She lived at the Sunnydale Motor Lodge. Was that by choice or necessity? Did her current Watcher even know where she lived? Buffy did at least, why hadn't she offered for Faith to stay at her house? They had that extra bedroom being used for storage right now. Giles also had a spare bedroom in his own apartment, Sunnydale was a family oriented town after all.
Had Faith ever truly gotten over watching her first Watcher tortured to death in front of her? Probably not. It's not like she'd gotten any real therapy after the greek freak had been dusted. Trick was still out there, so there was no sense of full closure yet. Hell, Willow's parents were psychologists and the girl had read all the books. Why couldn't she see that the Faith they all saw probably wasn't the real one? She'd kicked him out of the room right after a very quick 'wham bam what the hell?' session. She didn't want to make too many emotional attachments.
She really was buying into the 'She alone fights the darkness' crap and was almost completely emotionally isolated and probably very stir crazy in that hotel room. A place vamps can get in once the sun goes down.
His own life was crap, but at least his parents had stopped physically abusing him. Apparently he stopped putting out the vibe signaling he'd just take the hits anymore. They still did their best to belittle him and cripple him emotionally but that was par for the course. He wondered if there were any houses around town he could claim for his own without worrying about pesky things like ownership. It being the Hellmouth there were probably plenty to choose from once you actually started looking.
He'd head to the library and start screening records later. There would be some stuff going on in the paper the normal person would just 'ho-hum' over that was probably Hellmouth related.
He thought more about Faith.
Post near apocalypse or no, she was expected here in the afternoon for 'training'. She had to keep trying to measure up to the 'Buffy Standard'.
While she didn't listen to her current watcher much, she did do the physical work he required of her. Even though most of central floor of the library was trashed, she had would still have use of the school grounds after hours. That was due to the fact most of the sports teams ended practice very early in the afternoon. He'd talk to her afterward, maybe grab a burger with her. He'd slept with her and he'd be damned if it become something meaningless. That was something his parents would have done after all.
After classes were over Xander headed to the library. He grabbed two books on instinct. One was on magical theory the other was about ancient enchanted weapons, a dissertation on the theories on how they had been forged. The art was currently either lost or a few people on earth held on to the knowledge with a great deal of secrecy. Wesley was useful in the fact that when he came, the occult section of the library became just a bit bigger.
Taking said books he moved to one of the study alcoves the library had. There were quite a few that lined the outer walls and each was near a window. He'd opted for a sunny one since it was better to read under.
For the next half hour he'd immersed himself in the text on magical theory. He'd read the whole book and he realized that Willow had checked it out once but from what he could tell either only skimmed it or ignored a great deal of the contents. There were apparently several ways for magic to be practiced and it seemed each school was mostly geared toward one method of use.
Willow on the other hand, had been doing a mishmash. It seemed that while in theory such a method, would give her greater power would also give her problems with not only focus, but impulse control as well. There were the basic earth magics, drawing in the power of nature itself, there were the pleas to higher entities, channeling whatever power the deities called upon allowed to flow through you and then there were the use of mystic ingredients.
Each had method had a flavor of its own and very few people tried to mix them, those who did it seemed either went insane or lost most of their potential.Some became too powerful too quickly. Some had even blown themselves up in magical accidents.
The earth magic, otherwise known as Wicca focused on cleansing and channeling of natural earth energies, it was a pure set of magics rarely practiced due to the fact that few people possessed the proper temperament and serenity to use them properly, let alone in the heat of a battle. If one was a true child of Gaea then theoretically, they could live a very long time. The magic of the earth sustaining them as they worked to help the earth. Sure there were some words of power that could be used, but throwing them around too much meant channeling energy your body wasn't used to and doing so meant a negative feedback, withdrawal symptoms mostly.
The same could be said for the other magics as well. It was never wise to try to force large things through small channels, sometimes it would end up worse than a cherry bomb in a toilet, well with raw magic being the water and the pipes being the person.
Requesting help from higher deities gave you a small well of power that grew with time and use, however invoking different gods and goddesses sometimes tainted the pool, the energies not mixing all that well together, hence people like Ethan Rayne sticking mainly to gods of Chaos. While not actually evil, they got the job done in odd and sometimes disturbingly weird manners. Chaos wasn't fickle as long as those who called upon them actually caused chaos.
From what he had garnered Willow had invoked a lesser deity, one who once protected the Romany and doing so allowed her to cast the reensoulment curse, a nasty piece of black magic that would have tainted anyone's well of power afterward without the proper cleansing rituals.
As for the last, there were the inherently magical items that could be used to enhance magics or spells. Sometimes when combined, these could create potions an/or items that could be used as a focus for casting or other uses. He read about one such item composed mainly out of things that were pure and concentrated white magic, the crystal was said to be used for great healing. He had also read about something disturbing. It was a mix of earth magics and certain elements creating something called by a few as a 'Lazarus pit'. They were dangerously unstable, yet they revived the recently deceased, soul intact and brought the dying to full health and vigor though with a case of temporary insanity for their trouble.
It was not something he even wanted remotely near him, but it seemed the locations of the pits were a guarded secret as well. That was a good thing since it seemed the pits reacted violently to anyone who possessed enough magic of their own. It was generally only used by those who had little to no magical potential.
If one relied on these items too much while they had their own power, it could easily cause a mystical backlash that could cripple or even destroy the user. It was then he realized that magic was much more potent and even more dangerous than he had previously though. He wondered what the hell Willow was thinking, venturing into what he now realized were uncharted territories for the girl. Seeing that she was simply 'learning spells' without actually learning and using the methodology or the practices behind them.
He'd have to talk to Giles about that, but odds were he wouldn't listen too much. The Watchers had a variety of magical training, but Giles himself was like Willow. He didn't follow the rules when he was younger and had inadvertently stunted his own magical potential. He didn't realize what he had done wrong though and was allowing Willow to follow a similar path. Except she seemed to be gaining power.
As it stood now, she was at the level of a decade long novice in the arcane arts. Not a good sign at all. Giles himself had gotten the start of his own power from Eyeghon after all. Magic gained from a demon wasn't something a beginner should ever have.
Mentally sighing as he listened to the raven-haired Slayer go through her paces, he picked up the book that held the treatise on magical weapons and the theory of their creation. This was also interesting and gave him a few ideas, but the true art of mystical forging was either lost or hidden from even the eyes of the Watchers. Considering everything like the Crucimentamum that could be a good thing. They already lorded the fact they were Watchers over others, them having magical weapons would just make him want to shoot them repeatedly.
He silently stood and stretched, noticing his back didn't pop like it normally did when he moved in such a fashion. He really should have studied that little amulet more. Sadly though, it was gone and frankly if it had anything to do with world endage then that might be a good thing for everybody. He moved out from the alcove and watched Faith doing some cool-down stretches. She acknowledged his presence with a nod.
Xander put the books back where he found them and went to the weapons cage, sundown was a few hours away but he could still outfit himself with a concealed stake or two. He wasn't willing to stop by home to kit himself with his own weapons at the moment.
Besides he was feeling good, Hyena-Boy good actually. Not so much with the senses, but a bit more confident. He felt like he could take on a vamp and win.
Part of his mind was screaming against this, that line of thinking always got one killed, but another overrode it. He was realizing that amulet had done something to him, but it wasn't a bad thing. No, far from it. He had a sense of peace to himself now. His own fears at not being able to help people were slowly fading and the urge to help others got stronger. Whatever was happening to him was just beginning. He was brought out of his introspection when Faith elbowed him in the stomach. It got his attention.
“Sorry about that, I got a bit lost in thought there for a while.” Xander said.
Faith snorted. “Pull the other one Boytoy, you're not known for being a thinker.”
He shrugged. “People see what they want to, not everyone sees the truth Faith. You of all people should know that.”
To her credit her wince was a small one. She put on her usual front. “So what's up? You want another roll? I haven't had one last that long since I became a Slayer, so color me impressed.”
“But not impressed enough to keep me around.” He countered.
She shrugged and gestured to the Library floor. “As you can see I did have other things to take care of last night.”
“That you did, but you like the others decided to not let me help, and because of you people shutting me out I ended up having my own little adventure.”
“Yeah, you drove around, hit that demon and got a roll from me, I'd call that a good night.”
“Well you missed the zombies, the bomb and a few other things but yeah, the roll was one of the higher points of the evening.” He corrected with a grin.
That made Faith pause. She could tell he wasn't lying about the zombies. “All right, how bout you tell me what went down with you last night and we'll take it from there.”
He nodded, “Sure but there are some things I'd like to keep secret for now.”
“What things?” Faith asked him.
“Nothing bad, say Faith have you ever been to the Espresso Pump? They have a mean cookie.”
Seeing his not-so subtle request to get away from the High School she answered, “Nah I haven't. Are they big cookies?”
“Indeed they are. Now then,” He coughed and gave her his impression of being a distinguished gentleman. “Would you give me the honor to escorting you to a place where they sell overpriced caffeinated beverages?”
She smiled. It was a small one, but it was there. “Fuck, why not?”
He offered her his arm and she took it, they walked like that till they were off school property.
The Espresso Pump....
Five overly sized cookies and three mega-mochas later, Xander's wallet was hurting. He had twenty five to his name on him before he raided his change jar, now he had two dollars. Such was the price of coffee. He'd explained it all save for the amulet and the bomb going off.
“Wait so you went to not only Giles, but B and Red about this and they all brushed it off? And you grabbed that zombie and took his head off with a mailbox? Harsh man.” She said with a chuckle.
Xander shrugged. “It's not like you told me what was going on either, I've tackled a few demons for you too Faith. When you fight as a group you're supposed to support and protect each other. The rest of the Scoobs don't seem to see that anymore.”
Faith winced. “It wasn't my idea, X. B's got this big yen about you being the normal guy who keeps almost getting killed. She doesn't want you fighting.”
“Well I keep almost getting killed, doing that prevents the others from almost getting killed. they fail to see it, just like they fail to see how miserable you are living in that shithole of a hotel room. How many vamps have you had to stake when they came barging in looking for a free meal?”
“Seven.” Faith said flatly.
“Damn, so why haven't you talked to Giles or Wesley about getting a place?” He asked her.
“They're the Watchers. Linda got me out of that rathole my mom called an apartment. She fixed me up and showed me the ropes. These two, well Giles all he does is sit there and ask how many demons I killed and what they looked like. I don't think he knows where I live. Wesley is still too much in awe of being a field Watcher and trying to be in charge. Besides, if they wanted to know they would have asked.”
“Sorry Faith, I'd offer you a place to crash at my house but I don't want to inflict my parents on anyone.” Xander told her.
She nodded. “I figured as much. They drink or do other things?”
“Dad's a fan of Jack and Jim. Mom's a Morgan woman through and through.” He answered with a sigh then went on a chipper tone. “Well at least they don't beat me anymore, that's got to count for something right?”
“Sounds like your life is pretty shitty. You had a good thing going with that Chase girl. Why did you start chasing Red's tail?” She asked leaning forward looking at him.
He rubbed his face with his hand and sighed. “I honestly haven't a clue. I mean one minute I was trying on my tux and the next we were making out. I don't know what the hell happened. If I could go back in time, I'd slap the hell out of myself for being such an idiot. Things like that kept happening on and off. Then that Billy Idol wannabe Spike showed up and with the whole imminent death thing going on we got caught up in another moment. Next thing I know Cor's on the some rubble with re-bar sticking out through her stomach. It was over after that. I never meant to hurt her.”
Faith sat back looking at the confusion and sadness that had formed on the face of the man in front of her. His voice held the same tones, he truly regretted what he'd done to Cordelia. But he'd also slept with her last night so she was still holding out final judgment on him. “I believe that you didn't want it to go down like it did. Your folks say anything about the breakup?”
“My mom doesn't know much about my social life and my father thinks I'm gay due to the number of women I hang out with. Apparently it isn't manly enough for him. Of course I'm not on any sports team and that automatically makes me weak in his eyes, never mind his opinion of me having been on the swim team.. Tony was always one for being good at sports, being a man, being able to hold your liquor, being able to take a hit.” He rubbed his right wrist, remembering the time Tony had pushed down the basement stairs. His eyes snapped back into focus, “No, they didn't even know I was dating anyone.”
“Shit Xander, you need to get away from people like that.” Faith said with what passed for sympathy.
Xander nodded, “And you need to get out of that hole in the wall, I've got an idea though.”
“What's that?” She asked wondering if he was going to say something stupid.
“This is a Hellmouth and I really don't think all the demons live underground or in the oddly abandoned warehouse district. There are probably more than a few apartments and even houses that are currently occupied by some of the walking dead. Odds are a few of them are big nests with lots of cash saved up since vamps don't really need to buy much. What say you and I raid some nests and find a house? That way you can get your own room how you want it and a place vamps can't wander in uninvited. Best part is you wouldn't have to deal with living with or under the possible close eyes of Wesley. I don't like the guy much, he's too fresh out of school to be of any real use and he keeps making googly eyes at Cordy. I know she and I aren't dating anymore but that guy just pisses me off sometimes.” He said, shaking his head at the last part.
“That's sounds like a good idea actually. I've been paying for the room by raiding a nest or two a week.” Faith said after sipping on her mocha for a bit.
“Wait, you don't get any funds to pay for that shithole? Irresponsible watchers. I swear it sounds like they have set you up to be killed. I mean, if you think about it.”
She perked up at that. “What do you mean?”
Xander paused, gathering his thoughts. This would have been a glasses cleaning moment if he'd worn any. “Well the head of the council, Quentin Travers is a real asshole from what I have seen and figured out on my own. Now the Slayer before you, Kendra was raised from a young age to be a Slayer. She was taken from her home or given to the Watchers because it was determined through some means that she was a potential Slayer. She spent her life from then on learning about vampires, demons and various other lore. She was kept in a pretty controlled environment and always listened to her Watcher, she listened to Giles too if I remember correctly. Both you and Buffy don't really do that. Buffy has died once and Kendra became the slayer. There is a chance that if Buffy dies again, no Slayer will be called. That makes you the only 'True Slayer'” He used air quotes and grinned a bit. “But you're a fireball. You're a bit of a rebel and couldn't give two shits what the Council wants. So after your first Watcher was killed by Kakistos, you'd think there would have been some precautions there, you came here for help. Now Giles is no longer a Watcher and Wesley is the 'man in charge'" He used more air quotes. “That being said the man is incompetent and lacks the necessary stomach let alone field time to be a true aid to any Slayer other than say reading books.”
Faith was looking really pissed now. But Xander held a hand up.
“Not done, now what you may not know is that the Watchers seem to stem from family lines so that means Wesley's dad is probably a member of the Council too. If that's true he could be here due to political reasons as well. If he fails as a Watcher his father could take a lot of political flak for it. Not that it matters to you or I since all the heads of the council seem to do is sit with their thumbs up their asses while they hoard whatever wealth and political influence they have for themselves, leaving the Slayer to do her 'Duty' while they get fat and rich. Sort of like the exploitation of say the workers in a communist society while the government heads get all the spoils, even though it's completely hypocritical to their so called way of life.” Xander explained.
“So essentially since I am the Slayer and if I die there is a chance that a properly trained potential Slayer will be called after my death, they are setting me up to die?”
He shrugged. “It's a definite possibility or they're all just a bunch of mean spirited assholes. Why not put you to good use before you inevitably either get sloppy and get killed or do something wrong they feel they can 'sanction' you for. Can you honestly tell me you're happy with the way you're living now? An emotionally unbalanced Slayer can make mistakes in judgment and in fighting. The whole Angel/Angelus thing with Buffy is a good example of that. She had the chance to kill the soulless bastard but her emotional attachment to a vampire got in the way.”
Faith winced at the harshness in his tone. “I never understood why she slept with Fang. Sure he's handsome and all but there's got to be heat there otherwise he's nothing more than a giant walking dildo. Plus he smells like a corpse, a very fresh one but still a corpse.” She shuddered a bit, remembering what he didn't know.
“Me either, I think she wanted someone who 'understood' her. Both her and Angel had something similar, one was chosen against her will to fight the demons while the other lived in the darkness but had the soul of a human. I don't know how that bastard stays alive though. I would have offed myself for being such an evil bastard. Did you know that Angelus liked to turn children? It was a great kick when he did it to his sister and to the daughter of a hunter by the name of Holtz.”
Faith shook her head. “No I didn't. I didn't particularly want to know. That doesn't really make things better at all. So you gonna try and find a place tonight? The newspaper in town can't be all that blind. Unless trained reporters are on the take or something.”
“I had a similar idea earlier. We'll hit the stacks at the library, they've got microfiche dating back to seventy five years ago. We'll start in the early 1980's then track forward from there. This being the town it is means we should find something worthwhile.”
“I still have to patrol at least some tonight. You sure you can hold your own in a fight?” Her gaze told him he'd better not lie on this.
“Yeah, I'll do fine Faith and I want to fight and help you. I consider you a friend, what happened between us last night could have been just a one time thing or not, that's your decision. I do stick by my friends, especially if they decide to stick by me.” The last part was said with a grimace as he thought about the years of friendship with Willow that was slowly dissolving due to the witch's need to be accepted by Buffy and her overcompensating for cheating on Oz by completely shutting him out. Great friends they are.
Faith didn't manage to hide the wince this time. The group chemistry the Scoobies had was fading away. The fun happy group she had stumbled upon at the Bronze was falling apart due to reasons she wasn't fully aware of. It wasn't a good sign of things to come that much was certain. “If you say so Xander. Though if you get hurt, you're out of the game till you're healed up all right?”
Xander nodded and they headed to Faith's hotel room to gather some of her own stash of weapons. A quick patrol before information gathering followed by another patrol afterward would be just fine. The sun was setting now and he actually felt a little tired. He'd been up for close to forty hours now so fatigue was a given.
After a tour through six cemeteries and fifteen dusted vamps, four of which Xander had gotten, they headed back to the library. Faith, completely unfamiliar with the system and how it was used watched Xander work. Neither she nor he realized he was going through the different rolls of microfiche about five times as fast as he normally would. It was when they hit 1983 they found a mention of a house near UC Sunnydale that had been closed. Xander scrolled ahead and there had been a distinctly larger number of students disappearing, leaving behind notes of how they couldn't handle the stress of college life.
So the two of them got a few more weapons, a sword apiece and headed to the old fraternity house. They weren't all that surprised when they got there. From what they could see from the mostly dirty skylight was that the house was pretty full of junk and a blond female vampire was parading some stuff from a foot locker to the others. The two teens looked at each other. “You take the front, I'll take the back.” Faith told him.
He nodded. He'd be a distraction, taking out as many as he could while Faith came up from the rear and got stake happy. They went in separate directions and Faith waited till she heard the commotion Xander would cause to bust in the back door. She knew this was risky since he wasn't a Slayer, but she was giving him the benefit of the doubt and this could be used to judge his skills in combat. She had arrived to see Xander dusting the lead blond vamp while another uncharacteristically swung a baseball bat at the back of Xander's head.
What happened next surprised the young Slayer.
There was was a sharp cracking noise and a chunk of wood broke off the bat and was flung end over end hitting another vamp on it's ridged forehead. Xander turned around and cut the vamps head off with his sword one handed. He then rubbed the back of his head and shrugged. He took care of two more vamps in one diagonal strike, beheading one and cutting another in half from the top of it's shoulder to the other side of it's midsection, effectively cutting it's heart into two differently sized pieces. The last vamp slid in two directions for a moment then dusted.
Xander stared at the sword for a moment then scratched the back of his head for a bit, trying to feel for where the bat had hit. Not a lump. He looked at Faith who was standing among the dust of the recently defeated. She was wide eyed. Xander shrugged. “Okay so maybe I left out one or two tiny details about last night.”
Faith stood there with her hands on her hips, “No, really?”
Now it was Xander's turn to wince, Faith did not look happy.