Title: The X Factor (8/8)

Author: Cyclone

Feedback: Please be gentle.

Distribution: Gimme credit and a link. Plus, archived at or Maybe a little harsh language, certainly some violence, but nothing worse than on BtVS.

Spoilers: Starting at Halloween in BtVS. Anything goes for Gargoyles.

Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to other people. I'm just borrowing them for a while.

Summary: Yet another Halloween 'fic.

Author's Note: Hey, a special Halloween update!

It was a council of war.

There was no denying the threat posed by this new Scarab Corporation. While it was useful in dealing with the more immediate crisis of the vampire zealot known as Salem and his mad plan to reassemble the Judge, it was a threat they would have to deal with if things were going to continue on schedule.

"So, Mister McDonald, you feel you can fight this little legal issue?"

"It'll be tricky, Mayor Wilkins, but I believe the suit can be dropped. It'll take some work outside the courtroom, but I'm confident it's well within your resources."

"What do I need to do?"

"Absolutely nothing," came a third voice as a short figure burst into the room.

"I'm sorry, Mister Mayor," Allan Finch said, scurrying from behind. "I tried to stop him, but..."

"That's quite all right, Allan," the mayor said, his voice deceptively mild. He glared at the intruder, who returned his gaze without flinching.

The boy had nerve.

"So, young man, exactly why should I do absolutely nothing?"

"Because, Mister Mayor," came the even reply, "it suits us both to have this settled quietly."

Lindsey thoughtfully studied the young man and added, "And the fact that you'd be one of the recipients of the settlement has nothing to do with this?"

"On the contrary, Mister McDonald," Lindsey was startled to hear his name, "that is only an ancillary effect." The young man turned his attention back to the mayor, "Mister Mayor, let me just say that Alexander Xanatos is a threat to both our plans, and I believe I can assist you in... removing that threat."

"Legally, anything I hear in this room is privileged information," Lindsey said slowly, "but I'd speak carefully if I were you, Mister Le-..."

"Please," the young man sneered. "Like anyone would believe you. Besides, while you may look bad in the short run, you'll survive, and your... associate... Miss Morgan, shall be experiencing difficulties of her own, soon enough."

That sent the lawyer reeling. How did this... kid know about his rivalry with Lilah? And just what exactly was he planning?

"A triumvirate, then?" Mayor Wilkins asked, cocking an eyebrow.

The young man smiled, "Something like that."

How? he thought feverishly. How could I...? They're dead. All dead because of me, and I... he shuddered as he curled up into a fetal ball.

Nausea threatened to overwhelm him. Only his unusual physiology prevented him from emptying the contents of his stomach onto the pavement as the full reality of what had happened continued to hammer at him.

All those people were dead, trying to protect him, and who knows how many others in the rescue. And where was he?

Getting horizontal with his girlfriend.

He caught movement in the corner of his eye.

Xander stormed through the complex, heading for the training room. When he had taken over the old CRD plant, he had had most of the building converted to laboratory space more suited to the research he needed done, and most of the rest converted to office space. The largest room, however, he had had converted to a training gymnasium, with padded mats lining the floor and hanging on the walls from a height of six feet down to the meet the floor mats.

That, by virtue of being the largest room, had also been where he had held the planning sessions on how to deal with the Judge. The crowd of operatives -- his people -- parted when he arrived, revealing... exactly what Owen had reported.


The two combatants spun to face him. He glared at first Buffy, then Santos. After a moment, he spoke again, "Well? I'm waiting."

Buffy spoke first, tears streaming from her eyes, "She killed him!"

"Killed who?"

"Angel," Buffy replied quietly, her body shaking with sobs.

Xander whirled on Santos, "Is that true?"

"That /puta/ got my team killed!" she snapped back defiantly.

"I should fire you," Xander said, his voice deceptively calm. "I should take you back to LA and dump you back in that back alley I found you in. Your team -- my people -- died to protect him, and you go and pull this stunt? You just spat on their sacrifice, Santos," he finished coldly. The Hispanic woman paled as the full implications struck her.

"You two can try to kill each other as much as you want once the Judge is taken care of, but we don't have the time for that now." He looked at Buffy, "Right now, I need you in top condition, Buff. You want her out, just say the word."

Buffy shook her head, "No. She's a good fighter. We need her to stop the Judge. It's what Angel would have wanted."

Xander nodded, then smiled, "Good, 'cause I have a plan."

In the end, they found the Judge at the mall. Which made sense. If there ever were a place people would line up to get fried, that was it. Xander had outlined the plan. Most of his teams were still recuperating from the hectic fight at the warehouse, but there were enough to cover the exits and handle the evacuation of the civilians.

Xander was taking center stage, having donned the Steel Clan exoframe. He now stood, encased in high-tech armor, facing off against the blue demon while the vampire who had assembled the Judge, Salem, watched eagerly.

"No weapon forged can stop me," the Judge reminded him.

"Does soldering count?" Xander quipped, snapping his right arm up as the particle cannon popped out of its housing. He was gambling on the loophole. The particle cannon was not forged, so it should work.

He fired.

It didn't work.

"I shall burn you," the Judge raised a hand, but before Xander could move to dodge, Owen stepped between them.

"I'm afraid I cannot allow that," the blond man told the Judge. "Ahem," he cleared his throat and chanted:

"You who would burn humankind,
Burn now none but your own kind."

Salem was getting a bad feeling about this.

"Pfah!" the Judge sneered. "You think human magic can restrain me?" To punctuate his point, the Judge unleashed his fiery power.

"Spiiike," Dru whined. "Daddy. They're all gone now, Miss Edith." She stiffened suddenly, then smiled faintly and looked up in the direction of the mall, "Oh, the pretty fires."

The Judge's fiery blast had arced away from the humans present, striking Salem and his vampiric entourage and even the Judge himself, incinerating them. As the fires died down, Owen looked at the Judge's charred corpse dispassionately and finally replied, "No."

"Well, that was unexpected," Xander said, walking up to stand next to Owen. "I see the restrictions on your powers have been lifted."

"Something like that, sir," Owen replied, his eyes twinkling.

Wade Tannenbaum lay in the hospital bed, channel surfing with the remote in his hand. It was all he could do, really. The last mission -- protecting Mr. Angel and getting him to the plane so he could get out of the country -- had been a disaster. They were good at what they did, and the briefing gave them a good idea what to expect, but it still wasn't enough. Half the team was dead, and he wasn't much better. He was paralyzed from the middle of his torso down.


He looked up, "Sir." It was Mr. Xanatos, his employer.

"I came to apologize, Wade," Mr. Xanatos said. The man always had made a point of treating them like family, and that was appreciated by all of them. "I heard the report. I should have prepared you better."

"From what I heard, you didn't have much choice, sir," Wade replied, shrugging with a nonchalance that was entirely faked.

"Your health benefits cover all of this, of course," Mr. Xanatos said, waving one hand across the room negligently. "But there is another option."

"What do you mean?"

"We have... experimental procedures," Mr. Xanatos said, not meeting his eyes. "Procedures that might be able to let you walk again. I won't lie to you. There's a pretty good chance it won't work, and if it doesn't... your condition will probably worsen."

Wade considered that. He was paraplegic. How could his condition get worse? Quadriplegia? A jolt of fear shot through him when he realized what Mr. Xanatos was probably implying. He could die. Worse, he might be stuck bedridden and hooked up to a machine for the rest of his life, not even able to breathe on his own.

Was it worth the risk? To be able to walk? More than that, to be able to feel useful? To not feel... broken?

"Tell me more, sir."

Author's Postscript:

Yes, this 'fic is finished, but never fear! There will be a sequel. Eventually. Someday.

Does anyone care?