Characters property of Mutant Enemy, etc.
Song titled “Africa” property of Toto and their corporate masters.
What I'm trying to say is that I own none of the characters, just the scenario that they're playing in.
Summary: Why did Xander go to Africa after Sunnydale? Here's my answer for it. Alternate prequel to another fic I wrote called “Ordinary World”. Plans within plans...*nudge, wink* .
A/N: My formatting is all screwy since I try and write with italics for emphasis sometimes. apologies. There's a substantial conversation that uses *'s because it's internal. Thanks.
CAUTION!! SPOILERS FOR ANGEL SEASON FIVE AND BUFFY SEASON SEVEN!!
*'s-denotes psychic dialog
Approximately nine months after Sunnydale fell into the ground, Xander Harris was standing outside a hut in a village in southern Kenya. Feeling the setting sun on his face as he closed his remaining eye, the 23 year old reflected on this life of his.
Things had moved swiftly after the slayers had gone worldwide as a phenomenon and Giles had been eager to start trying to organize all of the girls before to many were lost to the darkness in one way or another. Buffy, Willow, Giles, Faith and Xander had sat at a cafe in Paris eight months ago and had casually cut the world map into sections to be distributed among various groups but when it came to decide about Africa Xander had brooked no argument.
Flashback~3 weeks post Sunnydale
“Xander you can't be serious..” Buffy said softly. The Slayer was eager to let Faith assume “Prime” status and go to Italy with Dawn, but she was still human and didn't care to repeat mistakes past. Letting Xander go, especially with his eye the way it was, seemed off somehow.
“Ladies, Giles, that this is not up for debate. I will go to Africa. If I'm assisting the Council reform while I'm there is up to you all.” Xander let the calm determination flow around him like a shield against their concerns.
Willow had been concerned but ever since she had found herself on the path of White magic she had snuck a look at Xander's aura and had seen that this was a thing that he needed to do. She could see the continent around him, drawing at him, and for one of the first times since high school she firmly supported Xander in this. “Buffy, we all have places to go. Kennedy and I are off to South America, Faith and Wood are headed back to the states...Xander deserves our trust in this.” The witch smiled at her longtime friend and kissed his cheek. “Find what you're looking for Xan...do it and come back to us.”
Faith,for her part, had never questioned Xander after she came to him shortly after Sunnydale was gone. They had had a screaming knock down about them, about his pain regarding Anya, and his guilt that Anya had died. Everyone on the bus had stayed well away that night in the desert hotel and the next day when she and Xander had emerged from his hotel room disheveled, bruised, sore and satisfied, even Wood hadn't asked about what had happened. The brunettes had become powerful allies since then and nothing else. “Go for it X, I won't lie and say that I'm not concerned about the place eating you up, but I'm not much for hand-wringing. Call if you need me and Rob and I will tear a path to your tent.” Xander nodded, his lips fighting a smile.
Giles sighed and threw back the rest of his cold tea with a grimace. Appraising Xander and the much more serious attitude the lad had assumed he came to the only decision he could. “Good luck Xander. I'll have my office prepare the papers and get your finances in order at once.”
Buffy, seeing that she was alone in her decision relented of course but not with out reminding Xander that she'd kill him if he “got himself all dead-y”.
And that,as they say, was that.
Now, as the stars came out on this February night, Xander couldn't help himself humming as a snippet of that old song floated through his mind.
“The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do whats right
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure whats deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become.”
And he was mildly afraid. Ever since his possession in freshman year, Xander would have dreams of this place. The Hyena spirit that had taken over was more that just an animal...they had been the very essence of a hyena. Pure and powerful, it had left the images of it's home in Xander, etched into him. While it had happened only frequently for the past few years, sealing the Hellmouth had been powerful magic. Xander figured that the wave of energy that had transformed all of those girls into slayers had recognized the remains of the spirit in Xander and had dislodged it from the deep part of his psyche. Since he had come to Africa he had found many Slayers....but he had sent them away for more formal training as soon as possible as he was afraid that his “Other” would overwhelm him.
Back in his hut so generously loaned to him, Xander looked in the mirror in his room. More scars, his skin deep bronze because of the sun. “All I need is a fedora to go with the eye patch and my safari clothes and I'm there” he muttered, desperately ignoring what he could see deep in his eye and his soul.
“I don't know about that, dork. You've got a mean case of salty goodness happening without extra accessories.”
Only one woman had ever been able to insult him and compliment him so well. Xander spun around, his eye betraying the fury and hurt that had welled inside. “Listen, thing,” Xander hissed, “Cordelia Chase is in a coma. In America. Do your homework better.” He knew it wasn't the First but that didn't mean there weren't a lot of things in the world that liked to play dress up.
Cordelia sighed. She knew her first love would be harder to talk to. Angel had been hard enough to talk to and then watching the vampire's face after the phone call came in about her shell's demise...well let's just say she had waited a few days in order to prepare for Xander. She didn't want to pull a power trip but if that's what it was going to take to get through to her high school honey...
Xander tensed as the image of one of the most beautiful women he had ever known moved towards him, palms out, radiating a serene calm and just a bit of a glow. Wordlessly she slowly reached out and place a palm on his chest. Just as he reared to strike at this invasion of space he was filled with images and sensations that broke his heart.
Cordelia Ascendant, had rallied herself for this exchange but still couldn't help but cry as Xander saw and felt her life since the last time they spoke almost three years ago. Suddenly she found herself in a wonderfully crushing hug as Xander grabbed her and wept into her shoulder. Even as a higher being once more, she couldn't separate her heart from her job. She had checked into his life before putting her whammy on him so they could skip the catching up faze, instead she found herself drawing Xander close on his cot and lying with him as they both mourned her passing.
Hours later, Xander awoke and realized what had transpired. Despite the pain, ragged and fresh, a smile crossed his face as he took in the beauty in his arms. “Hey” he whispered “you didn't come here to snuggle, Princess. I hate to mess this up but I thought you higher beings had schedules to keep.”
Cordelia rolled over on top of him. “Are you presuming to dictate to me, mortal?” she asked Xander archly. Briefly she thought about teleporting their clothes about four feet to the left, but she reigned in her mind before it actually happened. She needed to focus on her task. Xander deserved the same consideration that she had given Angel. Sleeping with her ex, delicious the thought might be, wasn't on the agenda. “But you're right, you big sexy doofus. I should never have showed you that this was business trip.”
Xander grinned as he hadn't in a long time. “Really Cordy, I thought I was persona non grata in the confines of those stylish clothes.” he whispered huskily into her ear
Cordy rolled her eyes and swatted Xander on the shoulder. “None of that! You know my ears are sensitive!” Laughing, they got up and looked at the midnight stars together. She took his arm and they began to walk together. “You've got this place inside of you Xander. I can see it in your soul and others can too. But there's a hitch.”
The former carpenter turned to his ex-turned-power with confusion on his face. “What's that exactly?”
Cordelia snapped her fingers And suddenly night was day and Xander and she were standing in the middle of the veldt. “The piece that you have isn't meant for you any longer sweetie. Africa wants this one back. That's why she called you home.”
Xander's jaw dropped. He was surrounded by hundreds of animals under a clear day lit sky. Kilimanjaro somehow stood taller than he knew it to be and the sky was a more perfect blue than it ever could be this day and age. “Where...where are we Cordy?”
The once cheerleader smiled and Xander could see her eyes glowing slightly, her facade slipping a little. “Welcome to the heart of Africa, Xander. I'd introduce you to her but she's known you pretty well for about the last eight years.” Cordelia spread her arms as she gestured to the sights around them. “I was contacted by my bosses before they released me from my shell and they were willing to give me two things that worked with their plans. You and Angel. You were both on a path with a bad end and I was promised that my personal attention could get you back on track. Africa had pulled you in but she had no way of getting you to this place. I'm the bridge.”
Suddenly Xander felt a kind of lessening and watched as light came from his mouth and eyes. The cloud of energy settled into the form of his hyena which turned and looked at the pup she'd lived in. Then Xander heard a voice in his mind.
*You were inside of me?*
*But you're a female?!*
*We have been a matriarchal spirit in your heart, yes. All creatures have male/female within them...Had I not bonded with that part of you, madness would have overcome you. Or perhaps your...appetites....would have changed. Either way it wasn't worth the risk as I may not have ever been free else wise.*
Xander paused and reflected on this bit of info. It explained why the others had followed his orders during the possession. Still though....
*But the others were free of their possessions...why not me? Why did you remain?*
*I could not depart you for the same reason I should have never been in you...you were a pure soul and had gone to the defense of that boy. This is counter to the requirements of the ritual and thus we were stuck together. I am sorry for that, but not that I was in you Xander. You are one of my children now....*
Xander realized that he wasn't speaking to just the hyena spirit and felt the wind go out of him. Falling to his knees, he felt Cordy's hand on his shoulder, lending him strength.
*It's very beautiful here.*
*Thank you pup.*
*I'll be honest with you. The dreams worried me from time to time but they were visions of beauty in my darkness. I'll miss them.*
*Miss them? What gives you the impression that I'm leaving you?*
*But, but, I can feel it. You left me.*
*Only temporarily. I petitioned your friend to bring you here so as I could award a more appropriate part of myself to you, child.*
Xander looked at Cordy and she smiled warmly as only she could. “what? You thought I would leave you all alone?“ She theatrically wiped a non-existent tear from her eye. “Go on silly. I think she wants you.”
Xander turned and saw all of the animals looking expectantly at him.
*Come,Xander Harris. Find your mirror among us.*
Xander began to walk among the animal spirits watching as they all appraised him as he did they. Searching for what felt like days, even though the light never changed, he found his “mirror” among the cats.
*So, you think you have found yourself?*
*To be honest sir, I don't see how I couldn't have.*
Xander felt fear and awe at the sight before him. The hyena spirit had materialized as large but this was a step beyond. A Lion stood before Xander, easily a half ton, it had a good sized black mane that hung about its face and neck. Most telling was the fact that it had only one eye, which glowed fiercely as if to offset the heavy scars where the other eye should have been. He dropped to one knee as a sign of equality between them and the Lion spirit nodded.
*It shall be you and me then cub. I will be within you in a way that the Hyena-Mother could not.*
*Any clues sir?*
*Your courage that got you into this situation will be your strength. We will be like a storm among the darkness.*
*Remind me to not ask you for more clues, sir.*
Xander felt the spirits that enveloped him smile and the female voice he had come to know as the Mother addressed him again.
*The Lion/Guardian is the one I chose for you. Despite their nature in the world this is their male heart and it will be true. You have my blessing Xander. I am glad you did not resist your destiny and my gift.*
*Thank you. I won't abuse this.*
*I know you won't.*
Xander noted the steel in that last bit and suddenly cool night air surrounded him. He and Cordelia were standing miles from the village. “Cordy?”
“I didn't just go insane right?”
Cordelia laughed warmly. “No Xander. You didn't.” Cordelia's face grew sad once more. “I have to go.”
Xander tensed up. He knew that she couldn't stay with him but he still wanted it. He hated the tears that came so freely once more. Turning towards his always stylish ex he pulled her tight.
Cordelia touched their foreheads together and took in the man before her. New strength flowed in him, coming from underneath the pain on the surface. She saw what Africa had given him and through her own tears she smiled. He was in for a surprise and she knew that she would be elsesphere when it occurred. And just as with Angel she just couldn't do this the official way.
Simultaneously they pulled each other into a desperate last kiss. The passion that had been taken from them because of youthful folly(and Jasmine's subtle interference) raged within that kiss. Pulling apart, Cordelia wiped her tears away. “Be good Xander. Be who you are.”
He nodded and caressed Cordelia's cheek gently, watching as she disappeared in a stream of lights.
Looking at the moon Xander felt as his tears stopped. She had come for him, saved him, and gave him the knowledge of what was to be in Los Angeles all too soon. Three months till an apocalypse and no one willing to help those who were to fight it. He thought of Angel and the others, trapped within their enemy, cut off from the light by a facade. “Looks like I'm going back to California.” he said with a grin.
Moonlight flooded the land and Xander realized that he could see better than ever before, even when he had both eyes. He felt his senses opening up to the world around him and fresh strength and hope filled him. In the distance he heard lions roaring and with a joyous surprise The-One-Who-Sees began to roar with them.