"If you like you can have the pinball machine," Xander offered, already making plans to get the Twilight Zone one as a replacement.
"Seriously?!" Cyborg exclaimed excitedly.
"Sure," Xander replied. "It's not like it cost me anything."
Cyborg paused and thought for a moment. "That's a clue, isn't it?"
"Yep," Xander agreed. "But solve that mystery some other time, for now let's get with the mojo."
"Cool," Cyborg said, reluctantly abandoning the pinball machine. "When did you get a coffee table and couch?"
"While you were playing pinball," Xander replied. "Have a seat on the couch and let's see what kind of mojo you have."
"Alright," Cyborg said distractedly as he began to put certain facts together in his head.
"Hold this," Xander said, handing him a small crystal ball.
"We going to see the future?" Cyborg asked curiously as Xander drew a design in chalk and placing candles around it.
"More the present," Xander replied as he wrote out a few lines on a piece of paper and handed it to him. "We are going to poke the ball with your soul and see what its color is."
Cyborg read and memorized the paper at a glance before examining the crystal ball and what Xander was doing with a little more caution. "I happen to like my soul."
"We aren't removing it," Xander assured him. "You will simply be making a finger of your soul and poking it in the crystal to see what color it glows."
"As long as I get it all back," Cyborg said seriously.
"Relax, this isn't a soul-removal spell, you'll just be extending your own a bit, much like when Raven does her bird impression," Xander explained.
"Oh yeah, she's mentioned that's her soul," Cyborg replied relaxing a bit. "OK, what now?"
"I light the candles, throw a pinch of magic powder and you chant that little ditty I gave you while concentrating on touching the center of the Thesulah Orb with your soul. I'll dim the lights so we can see it clearly, as only the major players or those with a marrow focus from years of practice give a good light show."
"Sound doable," Cyborg replied with a smile. "You do know the little ditty you gave me just says 'Thoth is good, Thoth is wise' in ancient Egyptian, right?"
"As gods go, Thoth is a reliable one," Xander replied, "being a god of Knowledge he acts intelligently, rather than emotionally, which means if he has a problem with you he'll tell you so you can make amends, which is important with magic."
"Yeah, but I paged through a couple of the books you brought and they seem to argue that Hecate is the one to call on in magical matters," Cyborg pointed out.
"Hecate doesn't seem to like me," Xander explained. "No idea why and really it's just a theory, but it's why certain magics go wrong around me."
"What did you do to Hecate?" Cyborg asked.
"Nothing!" Xander exclaimed defensively. "I've never met her or even cast any spells when they started going wrong around me. It's a mystery and like I said, just a theory. Spells calling on Hecate, which are most of the ones I've been around, go wrong. Spells calling on Thoth are always helpful, thus Thoth rather than Hecate."
"OK, now what lead you to Thoth rather than another deity?" Cyborg asked curiously.
"Egypt is cool and none of them have a grudge against me," Xander replied cheerfully. "Plus they have a lot fewer worshipers these days, so I don't feel like I'm constantly interrupting them dealing with crisis of faith or a split in the church when I call them."
"You may be overthinking that a bit," Cyborg said, "but it does sound reasonable."
"Ready?" Xander asked, while lighting the candles.
"Yep, let's do this," Cyborg agreed, reading the chant aloud, alternating between English and Egyptian.
The air grew heavy as Xander threw a pinch of something into the air and got up to turn down the lights.
"Picture your soul like clay or water and push a tendril into the center of the globe, but don't stop chanting," Xander ordered. "The light may be dim but is should be visible."
Light flooded the room, causing them both to curse and cover their eyes.
"I thought it was supposed to be a dim light! Cyborg complained.
"For most of the population it would have been," Xander replied. "Congratulations you have a great deal of potential."
"Really?" Cyborg asked, forgetting his annoyance and looking excited.
"Definitely," Xander replied. "Can't say the exact type, as that light has almost a… sharp-edged white. White generally means no specialty, practice anything you like, but that's a softer white. I'm guessing your talent has few restrictions, but I'm no expert."
"So what now?" Cyborg asked.
"Now I teach you the all-important first exercise," Xander replied with a grin. "It is boring as hell and will probably take weeks before you see any results, but you need at least one hour of practice a day."
"I can spare an hour a day," Cyborg agreed.
"This is the exercise," Xander said, reaching into the bag and pulling out… a number two pencil.
Cyborg grinned. "You already told me about this one."
Xander sighed. "Fine, spoil my fun. Watch." He placed the pencil on the table and sat down in front of it. He stared at it intently and it trembled slightly, vibrating in place for a few seconds before slowly rising in the air and beginning to spin, one way and then the other.
"Cool!" Cyborg breathed out, the immense concentration Xander showed in performing this small feat making it seem more impressive than Raven's casual use of her powers to toss supervillains around.
The pencil clattered to the table and Xander sighed. "I have very little talent, what you just saw is the result of nearly two years of work, because it's not just power it's also control."
"And you expect me to get results in just a couple of weeks?" Cyborg asked in disbelief.
"One, you have a lot more power than I do, and two, I said you'd need that long just to get results not to do what I so," Xander explained. "In a couple of weeks you'll be able to make the pencil move without a problem, making it move slowly and in a specific direction is where control comes into it."
"Ahhh," Cyborg said sounding a bit disappointed but relieved.
"It won't take you nearly as long as me to reach the point I'm at, like I said magic's really not my thing, that's why I concentrate on the fun things I have an affinity for or I find useful," Xander assured him.
"Summoning a remote," Cyborg reminded him with a grin.
"Ever since I saw Star Wars I've been wishing I could do that," Xander replied. "Having a goal always helps, even if it's not one I can accomplish in less than a decade." Xander pointed his hand towards the remote and concentrated, but nothing happened.
Cyborg walked over and grinned at Xander before turning on the TV and reaching for the screen
"Damn, I thought I had it," he said, shaking his head.
Xander laughed. "It's a normal TV remote, I don't have one of Control Freak's special remotes, good guess though."
"I'll figure it out eventually," Cyborg said with an easy smile. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have some research to do."
"Sure, catch you later," Xander said, blowing out the candles on the table and cleaning up.
A news program came on and Xander sighed as he saw he was still one of the top stories. It freeze-framed on a close-up of Xander with his axe buried in Black Manta's stomach as Black Manta struggled with an octopus the size of a car.
Xander reached into the screen and grabbed the axe from his frozen doppelganger, having to twist and turn it to pry it out of his hands.
"I need some paper towels," Xander muttered as he examined the blood-covered axe.
Dawn squealed as the news showed the battle with Black Manta.
"I can't believe Xander is getting in fights with supervillains," Willow groaned.
"I can," Buffy said bluntly.
"You can stop with the cheering," Joyce told Dawn, trying not to laugh. "This is the fifth time you've seen it."
"But he looks so heroic!" Dawn exclaimed, bouncing up and down in her seat.
"I don't believe the Justice League agrees with you," Buffy said amused.
"Probably because the Black Manta isn't a demon," Willow said.
"He has the kill count of one," Joyce pointed out.
"The report said he was affected by Aquaman's telepathic commands," Willow said. "Normally it only affects sea life but being possessed before probably screwed up his defenses."
"Halloween or hyena?" Buffy asked.
"Both?" Willow guessed unsure. "We've run into any number of things that could have been responsible."
"You should probably look into that," Joyce suggested.
"Think the Justice League is going to ask him to join?" Dawn asked her mother.
"It's possible," Joyce agreed tentatively.
"I wonder where he got that axe," Buffy said. "That was a really nice axe."
"It looks like it was copied from a Thangarian design," Willow said. "The Hawk People," she clarified, seeing Dawn looked confused.
"He was a huge fan," Buffy teased Willow, knowing about Xander's one-time crush on Shayera Hol and the failed attempt to get Willow to dress as her a couple of Halloweens ago.
"I like the way the armor looked on him," Dawn said.
"At least he put on armor before going after him," Joyce said. "A bit of armor can be a lifesaver."
Buffy sighed, not wanting to get into the same old argument. "Nobody makes anything in my size and what I can get would slow me down and make me much more likely to get hit."
"I know," Joyce assured her, "I just worry."
"I wonder what Xander is up to right now?" Dawn said.
"Probably getting training in mental defense from Martian Manhunter," Willow guessed, "or possibly Aquaman."
"You think they'll train him?" Buffy asked surprised.
"They took him into protective custody, I can't think of what else they'd do with him," Willow replied.
"Probably involves a lot of sitting around and meditating," Buffy said, recalling Giles trying to train her to resist mental influences. "I can just see him sitting impatiently while they ask him unanswerable questions."
"You need my pubic hair for what?!" Raven asked in disbelief.
"Dream catcher," Xander reminded her, holding up the circular reed frame that already held a thin net of her hair.
"That seems…" she trailed off.
"I only need a couple to finish it," Xander said persuasively. "I was planning to get them off the soap in your bathroom or shower, and I didn't want you to get the wrong idea."
"Wrong idea?" she asked, wondering what the right idea could possibly be.
"That I was going to use them on my own," he replied, sliding past her and into her bathroom.
Raven wasn't very knowledgeable on magic dealing with dreams, but she could easily see what kind of sympathetic effect that would have and could feel the mental representation of her emotions responding.
Happiness giggled and spin around, her pink cloak swirling. "Those sound like some fun dreams!"
The grey-cloaked representation of Raven's timidity bit her lip and softly offered, "Maybe he doesn't want to think of us that way? It's not like we're all that attractive."
Raven's bravery snorted. "Sorry wallflower, his emotions say different. I doubt it would take more than a few seconds to get him naked and in our bed!"
The orange-cloaked Raven seemed to consider the green one's words for a moment. "As long as he does most of the work, I could go for it."
The yellow-cloaked, glasses-wearing representation of Raven's intellect spoke up, "While he obviously has the desires of a healthy young male, he has also shown considerable restraint. When we enthralled him he made his desires known, but was waiting for a clear signal of acceptance before acting on them."
Raven's passion simply licked her lips. "Mama likes!" she declared with a purr.
The Raven in a brown cloak burped and scratched herself. "I wouldn't mind getting a little sticky," she announced, surprising none of them.
The four-eyed, red-cloaked representation of Raven's anger and the strongest connection to her demonic power was strangely silent, sitting in midair and meditating.
Xander returned with half a dozen short hairs in his hand. "OK, now the reason we need pubic hairs is not primarily sexual in nature or we would attach them near the center," he explained, rejoining Starfire and Raven around the table he'd brought to Raven's room to show them how to make dreamcatchers of their own.
"What is the reason and what would happen were we to put them near the center?" Starfire asked curiously.
"Placed around the edge they help filter out childish fears that we developed during childhood and may still be affecting us emotionally," Xander explained cheerfully, holding up his own dreamcatcher and showing where he'd attached his own. "Placed near the center it encourages dreams of a sexual nature. Lovers would often make dreamcatchers with a couple of pubic hairs from each other to form a sympathetic connection in their dreams, allowing them to form a stronger bond as it would guide the dreams toward what they both desired rather than just the dreamer's."
"You've really studied the subject," Raven said, pleased at how thorough his explanations were.
"The Hellmouth affects everyone for miles around and you're most vulnerable when you sleep," Xander replied. "The number of times I've been mentally screwed with is pretty high, so I did my homework on the subject, plus it is both interesting and useful."
"If you've done this much research into the subject how did Aquaman control you?" Raven asked curiously.
"Psionic energy is short range in nature, however it propagates through the astral plane which is also how magical attacks target the mind, so everything I learned was concentrated on astral defense," Xander explained. "The odds of me running into a telepath are low to start with and the odds of me being close enough for the commands to be transmitted through the air is just plain laughable." Xander chuckled. "The strongest telepath ever recorded only reached half a city block in the open air before the signal degraded to noise."
"How far away were you when Aquaman sent out his call?" Raven asked.
"Over three and a half miles away," Xander said seriously.
"That is frightening," Starfire said honestly, as she ran her fingers along her own dreamcatcher nervously.
"I'm hoping your astral defenses failed," Raven said. "It is an unusual form of telepathy he possesses after all."
"That is a happy thought," Xander said perking up.
"And in a change of subject to a non-scary one, may I have some of your pubic hairs, please?" Starfire asked cheerfully.
"What?" Raven asked.
"Oh and some of yours too!" Starfire assured her.
Typing by: Jarreas